I’m a pretty frugal person.
It probably started when I was born in Wisconsin, a state where thou-shalt-live-humbly. Everyone drives Toyotas and Fords and Subarus. Millionaires live in log cabins.
As an elementary schooler I literally didn’t know people could buy clothes from the front of the store. I thought those were just for show, since everyone I knew always headed straight back to the clearance section, because why buy a sweater for $40 if you could get one for $10?
I also have German heritage, and some of those stereotypes hold true for me. Cleaning all the things. Baking all the things. Not wasting any of the things.
My great-grandmother, who lived to be 103, would reuse a teabag like eighteen times. No matter how much we tried to convince her that her cheap-o brand teabags were basically $0.15 apiece, she wasn’t convinced.
“Ohhhh, I’m fine…” she’d say. (Acting a martyr also runs in German families.)
Then I moved to Orange County, where our family frugality needed to ratchet up a notch because it is crazy-expensive out here. Cost of living is crazy-go-nuts, especially housing.
(The last time my grandmother visited us out here she walked around open houses in our condo complex and clucked her tongue the whole time. “So much money!” she kept repeating. “And for a one-car garage and no yard!”)
Yet sometimes celebration is called for. Full-on, pull-out-the-stops, kill-the-fattened-calf celebration.
This is hard for us frugal folk.
Sure, I’ll buy some See’s chocolates (because honestly, you can NEVER be too frugal for See’s), but the idea of feasting, even on Easter, is hard for me. Why spend money on a feast when there are college funds to save for, cars to fix, and rent to pay?
It can seem kind of wasteful. Frivolous. Silly.
Yet for people of faith, feasting, especially on Easter, is the farthest thing from silly.
A feast is a joyful proclamation that God has done and is doing an incredible thing. It’s celebration in the light of the resurrection, the already-and-not-yet of God’s kingdom coming to earth.
It’s a delicious reminder that we serve a God of abundance, grace, and overflowing love.
It’s a foretaste of what we look forward to when we will dine with Jesus one day at the wedding supper of the lamb.
Celebration? It’s Biblical. Abraham did it to celebrate milestones for his beloved son, Isaac. Kings David and Solomon did it when God blessed their reigns. Jesus gathered with his disciples to remember–and celebrate–the Passover.
There’s nothing wrong with frugality, but in God’s economy it must be balanced by both generosity and celebration.
Shopping the grocery sales is good stewardship if you still invite the neighbors for dinner and are always willing to stretch the soup. Pinching pennies can be a faithful action, but there are days when you must let some of those pennies go to buy a really meaningful anniversary present.
My frugal self is slowly learning to celebrate lavishly. That doesn’t mean I pull out all the stops in the bank account–that would be neither wise nor truly celebratory.
But it does mean I am learning to truly set the table for celebrations.
To use the good dishes even though the kids might break one. To buy the best roast we can afford. To invite in the family or the neighbors or both. To put flowers on the table because they serve no other purpose than to be beautiful and bring joy.
To give the kids some sugar. (You can do this too, California moms. Seriously. Repeat after me: A handful of jelly beans is okaaaaaaay.)
To pour something bubbly, even if it’s just a Sprite. To linger at the table and look into the eyes of those I love.
Celebration is good practice for the next life, where we are invited to the feast to end all feasts.
From Revelation 19:
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Even this frugal, German, Wisconsin girl can get behind that.
How do you celebrate best?
Are you a spender or a saver? Does God want to stretch you to become either a better steward of what you have, or a more generous giver?