This article is found in Positive Tribe Magazine, May 2019 edition. For your free copy, click here!

Mom!  You know the lovely woman who gave birth to you some time ago. 

Mom!  She washed your hair and feet until you were old enough to really wash them yourself.

Mom!  Her hands held yours and her eyes looked deeply into yours when a pep talk or a scolding was given.

Mom!  The super heroine that you cherished or wished could really be Wonder Woman. 

Mom!  The keeper of the kitchen refrigerator and for better or for worse doled out the goods when it was time to eat.  But have you ever really thought about what you can tell about your mom from looking at her refrigerator?

To begin with, I’m going to fully disclaim that I love my mom with ALL my heart!  However, when I told her what I was going to write about this month, she got very defensive and said “But, I clean out my refrigerator EVERY Saturday!” 

 Can you tell we’ve talked about the contents of her refrigerator in the past?  Mom’s refrigerator has been the topic of discussion many, many times and especially recently since she moved closer to me and I can stop by for lunch or dinner every now and then!

My mom was born in 1934, 5 years after the beginning of the “Great Depression” and she grew up with very frugal parents.   The Great Depression was a time of great economic crisis during the 1930s, with the two “worst” years being 1932 and 1933 with nearly 1 in 4 people unemployed and many hungry and homeless.  It began in the United States, but quickly spread throughout much of the world.

Through the many years of “waste not, want not”, my mom learned to live within her means, share what you have with family and friends, and work hard and save for the future.  Kids back then didn’t ask what was for dinner – they were grateful to have something on the table and in the refrigerator.  My grandparents were hard working, proud people and we didn’t’ hear many stories of their struggles back then – they did what was needed to feed, clothe and care for their family.  My grandfather went on to work for Household Finance and after many years in the corporate world, he started his own company but even with finances secured in time, he and my grandmother were humble and modest to the core. 

My mom raised our family with care and we regularly heard “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “close the refrigerator door, we’re not air conditioning the kitchen!”  Mom cooked A LOT and there were always lots of leftovers for the rest of the week.  So, with all the little jars, plastic containers, and baggies with leftovers in them, it did take some time to find what we really wanted to eat in her refrigerator!!  See the picture above for her “modern day” selections!  Thank goodness she cleans it out every Saturday!  I must admit, there is some order to the shelves on the side doors, but the body of the refrigerator is so full that even my dad puts orange juice on his cereal because he can’t find the milk!

Fast forward to my generation and my refrigerator!  What can you learn from looking in mine these days? 

Well you can tell I’m organized and we don’t eat many leftovers – we did when I had four growing children at home, but in an “empty nester” house, we cook what we can eat in one meal with maybe a lunch the next day OR we go out!  I rarely keep little jars of any food and I never have plastic containers with plastic wrap securing the contents inside.  I recall mom giving me little plastic shower caps to put over cans of unused foods…sorry, mom, those little caps will not find a home in my kitchen!  I don’t have bread stacked on top of the eggs or six different blocks of cheese wrapped up in individual baggies waiting to be melted in a soup.  I DO have fresh fruit for breakfasts, a variety of cheese slices and meat for sandwiches and a small selection of “hot sauces” for the spicy men in my life!  I’m not starving the guys by any means.

I firmly believe my kitchen refrigerator habits came about because of my mom’s overstuffed, “cluttered” GE – oh well, I said it, I love my mom but I don’t love her refrigerator and although I’m not a rebellious child, I didn’t follow her lead in this area!

Debby’s Refrigerator

Are you wondering what my daughter’s refrigerator looks like – did the apple fall far from the tree?  She does have little containers with cut up sweet potatoes and avocados.  She does have little baggies with leftover cheese cubes. She does have lots of crock pot pork ready to be frozen for meals in the upcoming weeks but, her family circumstances are vastly different than mine were at her age.  She’s a single mom of two, working as a preschool teacher, and making her way as best she can.  She’s got the frugality of her great grandmother, the work ethic of her grandmother, and the refrigerator organization of her mother!!  I love coming to visit her and I always FILL UP her refrigerator with many of the things she doesn’t “normally” get or can’t afford like ice cream, individually packed lunch snacks, and lots of fresh fruit!  She’s very grateful for the goodies and will gladly move the little containers around for whatever comes home from the grocery store and it fills my heart knowing she’s getting something extra now and again.

Jenny’s Refrigherator

So, this Mother’s Day month, check out your mom’s refrigerator and see what you can learn about her from the contents!  You may find a whole lot of history and I’m sure a whole lot of love wrapped up in one GE, Whirlpool, or Kenmore ice box!!

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