Recent Events Remind Us That Living in a Big, Beautiful House Doesn’t Always Mean Life is Rosy

Every time I sit down to write a post, it seems too trivial to discuss frugality in light of recent events. However, my 13-year-old-son continues to ask questions about Sandy Hook that seem in some way related to the topic. 

Mcmansion north
Here’s a basic large home (not in Connecticut)…so often the object of envy of neighbors in smaller homes. all across the country. When will we learn that the size of a house doesn’t always dictate the joy you may or may not find behind those stylish closed doors?  Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His questions have to do with a lesson I learned late in life, and hope my kids learn much earlier. It’s this: you never, ever know what is really going on behind closed doors of even the most beautiful and well-manicured house on the most well-to-do block. All could be absolutely fine, but, you just never know, so just be grateful for all the intangible and tangible joys and beauty in your own life and don’t worry about what others have that you might not have.

Last Sunday, I found this short essay in the Connecticut Post newspaper under the “Tell Me About it” column by Carolyn Max and I’d like to share it. It’s written by an anonymous reader giving sage advice and it is speaks to this life lesson that ties in recent events, the holidays and life going forward–all at the same time:

Essay: On wanting what everyone else has:

I admit I occasionally wish I had someone else’s income, legs, job, etc., but the feeling is momentary. When I was 11, I was desperate to change places with Mary K., a beautiful blonde in my class. She had everything I wanted: a big brother, a big house on the lake, a father who was a doctor and thus didn’t change jobs and force us to move every year, a bubbly personality. Her 11th birthday party was a sophisticated trip to dinner and the movies; mine was a run-of-the-mill slumber party.

I don’t remember my 12th birthday party. Mary K. never had one. There wasn’t much they could do for leukemia in those days. So I learned that you never know what sadness lies beneath the surface or what the future holds for those who seem to have it all. I still have her photo on my wall, smiling and looking forward to the rest of her wonderful life.

–Wiser Too Young

I had my own version of Mary K. — her name was Paula R. I don’t know what happened to her, and I hope it’s all good, but I will never forget the envy I had for her beautiful life that seemed so different from mine during those years. I continued to feel that sort of envy during much of my adulthood until I finally learned–and was just sadly reminded of–that much of the time, nothing is ever as it seems behind closed doors.

~Marilyn, TFF