Playing with Knives

A few months ago, I noticed that Dennis and I have begun a shift from exchanging time for money to exchanging money for time

When we were engaged, I knit myself a stack of dishcloths like the ones my mom and grandma always used. I wasn’t going to be that(!) kind of frivolous housewife who bought hers; I would earn money by saving it wherever I could. 

And then there was the wooden high chair I refinished, only to discover the next day that the varnish was peeling off in strips. Yeah, it turns out I’m not the DIY type—oh, it’s freeing to admit that. Why [buy it when you can make it] make it, when you can buy it?

- ten homemade dishcloths for a $6.99 ball of cotton and twenty hours of knitting.
- ten store-bought dishcloths for $7.99 and an extra thirty seconds at the grocery store.

We’ve been out of strawberry jam for a few months, and I’ve had it in the back of mind to make some more this year. Suddenly realizing that strawberry season is upon us, the boys and I left Wesley with Dennis and loaded up a few baskets at a local Mennonite farm. I picked madly and got covered in sweat, they picked sporadically and got covered with dirt, and we all had a glorious time. 

That’s where the fun usually ends and the work begins, except I underestimated the boys’ enthusiasm. We washed, trimmed and smashed berries for the rest of the morning. I helped them use real (somewhat dull) knives, and they loved it

It took me the rest of the day—on my own—to finish the jam and clean up the kitchen. I couldn’t help some mental calculations to see how much money I’d saved by making it myself… not a lot, it turns out.

I have no desire to make my own sidewalk chalk, or lip gloss, or another dishcloth, or anything with old wooden pallets. I’m happy to spend my time elsewhere and leave the DIY to people who actually enjoy those things. 

So, why the jam? Because it was about a rich childhood, and life skills, and conversation, and—best of all—playing with knives. It was about exchanging time for time. I guess it was never actually about the jam at all.