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Many of you are homeschoolers, so I thought I'd share an article I wrote for our state's homeschool magazine back in 2004. It was two years after our youngest had graduated and I was finally getting around to rearranging the rooms in our house to accomodate the new season of life.
The Couch That Won’t Die
by Lorie Codispoti
Frugal Living is a class that every homeschool student should be able to list on his transcript. It might be considered a bird class (one you fly through) to some, but to others it would be an enrichment class whose rewards would long outlast the final exam.
Like many homeschoolers, we are a one-income family. It’s always been our desire to maintain financial freedom and live within our means. The Lord has adequately supplied for us in this area, and as a result we now have a collection of stories that we plan to tell our grandchildren. The latest entry is the story of our couch that won’t die.
I think I was born with a natural tendency to squeeze a penny so hard that it reaches screaming proportions much like that of a dog whistle, so high that you can’t even hear it. I can remember trying to convince my father that coupons were like money in your pocket.
Frugality began its work in me years ago as I watched my newlywed aunt collect items to decorate her home. She loved old glass bottles and the only way to acquire such treasures frugally was to go on what she called a dig. I had the privilege of accompanying her on several of these adventures. After carefully scouting out an ancient dumpsite, we’d spend hours digging down to the level that housed these valuable relics. We’d squeal like giddy schoolgirls upon each discovery. Dozens of bottles were collected this way, and I left the experience with quite an education about antique glass, not to mention a curious nose for digging.
A desire for treasure hunting is a prerequisite for frugal living, and I love every aspect of the dig. Whether it’s research that I’m engaged in, books that I’m searching for, or reduced canned goods I’m sifting through at the grocery store, treasure hunting always reinforces my motivation to save money and live frugally.
I personally think our family couch should be mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for its longevity. It has no monetary value, but it has almost reached certifiable antique status. And like most homeschool family couches, it has been well USED. My babies were nursed and read to on it. They learned to read and logged many classroom hours seated upon its cushions. Many fellowship events have overloaded it with more bodies than it was designed to handle. We’ve laughed, cried, prayed, and played on it, and everything from cowboy sheet forts to princess castles has been built upon its sturdy frame. Why, the sick have even been nursed back to health cradled between its arms.
Yet, after all these years and all this use, there continues to remain one outstanding feature about this aging dinosaur that astounds me. There isn’t a worn spot on the fabric anywhere! Honest! Buttons have popped, cushions deflated, stains acquired, and bolt replacements made after spring explosions (an interesting event when guests are visiting), but there is no indication of fabric wear. The Lord has kept this couch from completely wearing out, thereby negating the frugal side of me from justifying a new one, until now.
Seasons change and it’s time for the schoolroom to morph into the den it was designed to be. Both our children have graduated and our home is putting on a new face. For years I have anticipated the day that this couch would finally die. In fact, I have even gleefully envisioned lighting a match to the old thing and watching it burn in the backyard while we roast marshmallows over its coals.
Everything changes, but not everything is changed in the process. I may acquire a new couch to go in my new den, but have I learned the lesson its longevity has to teach me? It’s not frugality, as one might think. Frugal living has been the means, but the underlying purpose of this lesson has been contentment. It’s strange, but I think that in a nostalgic sort of way, I’m going to actually miss this old couch. Maybe I’ve learned that contentment is not something we dig to find like a buried treasure. But rather, it is more of an attitude that one acquires while searching out the treasures in each season of life. I hope to testify, like the apostle Paul, that “I have learned that whatever state I am in to be content.”
Because frugality will always be at the core of my being, I have decided to recycle part of my couch’s oak frame and mount it to the den wall. Long live the Codispoti couch! It will house the quilts I plan to make now that I am a retired homeschool mom. The ashes from the rest of it will be added to my compost pile and possibly pave the way for a new hybrid vegetable—the couch potato. (Sorry! I just had to say that!) Whatever its fate, this old couch will serve as a reminder that Frugal Living’s been a favorite class, and contentment a valuable lesson.
© 2004 The Couch That Won’t Die by Lorie Codispoti. Lorie is a retired homeschool mom. She can be reached at email@example.com H