Two Letters Re: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Birthdays

I have to say, the recent Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Birthdays article hit exactly how I view prepping for morale, especially for children (which can in turn improve the morale of adults). When I was 10 my dad lost his job and for four years he toiled at any hard labor job he could find, including roofing all the hail damaged house in the area. We went from having dessert every other dinner to barely eating and forget new clothes, we barely had money for the thrift store bargains. Luckily, there were three of us girls, so all the clothes made it down the line. Mom would manage to make each of us a special birthday outfit and maybe matching Easter dresses. Things were hard and we knew it.

That period of my life made a big impression on me, and it has affected my prepping as well. I have included similar items like puzzle books, birthday decorations, stickers, coloring books and toys that range several ages. I don’t think that sheltering kids from the coldness of the world is the best idea, because I learned to do without, and I know that now I can do it again and survive. Things will be hard in the near future, and our kids will know it. But
having the ability to make bright spots in the long dark can help make life a little more bearable.

The best way I have found to make this practice of prepping for morale is to think ahead to what you will need in the next few years and then buy off season. Wal-Mart and most other retailers always have a huge toy clearance after Christmas, craft stores like Joann’s clearance all of their seasonal decor in a regular fashion. A couple of years ago, Joann’s Fabrics had a clearance sale on all of their Halloween dress up clothes to 90%. I got $200 worth of dress up clothes for $20. I also purchased several 300 count packages of black and orange plastic silverware for $1 per bag. – Renee

James Wesley:
I agree that keeping up the morale in hard times is essential.  We are people, not robots, and we have feelings that are sometimes lifted just by a smile, a pat on the back or a small show of appreciation.  I also have what you called a ‘prize box’.  I usually get things to go in it after holidays and at yard sales.  Just recently I picked up about 20 men’s neck scarves from an Old Navy store for only .51c each!  That will be someone’s Christmas gifts next year.  I have found packs of two stretchy knit gloves for 25 cents, and they are different colors, so I give the darker shades to boys and the pastels to girls.  I also keep a good selection of wedding and graduation gifts on hand.  I have found that many times when people get married and they get a lot of gifts, they will have a yard sale and sell some of the duplicate gifts or maybe something that just wasn’t their taste.  I usually pay about $3 to $5  and put them away until I get invited to a wedding shower or graduation and use these as gifts, along with something I made personally, and I try to match the item with the honoree’s registry requests and personality.  You can always find new baby items at yard sales really cheap.  I get baby clothes, blankets, bottles, photo albums, etc. brand new, with the tags still attached and save them for when I am invited to a baby shower.   This way, I can give them much more with the small amount of money I am able to spend on gifts. 

I also have a son and several nieces and nephews that hope to be getting married in the next few years.  I know that at the rate our economy is headed, I won’t be able to spend as much as I have in the past on other members of our family, and I don’t want them to have to struggle any more than they will have to, so I have been shopping clearance sales and yard sales for nice new wedding gifts that will be useful regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves in the next few years.  And if nothing changes and we are all just skipping merrily along, oblivious to the eventual economic day of judgment, then these items will still be just as necessary and appreciated, either way.  I believe that with or without power there will be a need for good, sturdy cooking pots, and things like canisters, measuring cups/spoons, hand food choppers, and the like.  You would be surprised at how many people go to selling parties like Tupperware, Princess House, Pampered Chef, and things like that, and they will buy something for $40 to $60 just to help out their friend who is hosting the party.  Then they never use the gadget they bought and will sell it in a yard sale for a few dollars.  I hate to see them throw their money away, but these make great gifts to someone who is just starting out and appreciates anything. 
Morale is important.  We need to have something to look forward to, like a little light at the end of a tunnel.  I believe that the future will be much harder on children and young adults.  They have only had plenty and excess in most of their lives, and just having to do without will be a major culture shock for many.  But a little gift or token to remind them of the good times can really cheer us all up. – Taressa