Susan Rooks in Communications and journalism, beBee in English The Grammar Goddess • Grammar Goddess Communication Oct 13, 2016 · 3 min read · 1.7K

Thursday Thoughts: "We Have Our Hats"

Thursday Thoughts: "We Have Our Hats"Growing up in a family that owned and ran a few small women's clothing stores in the 1950s and '60s, I often wondered why I didn't like shopping too much. I didn't mind it -- nice clothes were and are fun to have -- but I never embraced the "we're going shopping!!!" excitement that gripped so many of my friends.

I know my mom adored shopping, especially in "our" stores. She could spend all day there, both enjoying the nice things she could buy and the fact that she was the owner's wife. I used to hang back, not entirely comfortable with the attention she received or the endless dresses she wanted me to try on when I got old enough. (Most of my girlfriends thought I was nuts.) 

Thursday Thoughts: "We Have Our Hats"Fast-forward to today, and I still feel less than excited about shopping, especially clothes shopping. Boring!

Maybe it's due to my dislike of the attention my mom got in those days.

Maybe it's because I'm an adopted kid and just not the same as she was and still is.

Maybe it's just how I'm wired.

Whatever the reason, I know that I felt a kinship with a quote I saw years ago, supposedly about how a 19th century Boston Brahmin answered a question about where Boston women bought their hats:

We don't buy our hats. We have our hats.

As I've gotten older, I've embraced the idea I see in those words. I've seen perfectly good things tossed out -- furniture, clothing, food -- and wondered why. 

Why are so many old things of no value? 

Is it the Shiny New Object Syndrome? 

Is it the attention something new will get from others, even if not from me? 

Does something new always mean something better? 

Is bigger really better?

Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to have something new if it fulfills a need, not just a want (double points if it's both a need AND a want). I'm perfectly fine spending money on something that will give me long-lasting happiness, not just something trendy that will inevitably be replaced in many minds by the Next Big Thing. 

I now live in a really small 525 s.f. cottage (about 49 square meters) by a beautiful bay on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA. The water and sky are never exactly the same day to day, but they're always gorgeous. They speak and sing to me. Sometimes they're even soothing. 

My little house is about 1/5th the average size of homes here in the U.S., but the happy factor is about 10 times more, at least for me and many others who call this small village home.

It's a simple place and easy to clean. Basically one big room with high ceilings, so it feels bigger than it is. A joy to live in.

I now "have" my things. The pictures / clothes / pots & pans / dishes / whatevers that made it to this house are what I have. I don't feel any need to trade 99% of them in for something new. They're my comfort things; goods that have served me well for up to 40 years (my glider), and certainly for 10 or 15 years. They fit me. They work well. Why not keep them? 

And here are three pictures that pretty much sum up why I love living here.

Top left: View from my enclosed back sun porch.             Right: Amazing sunset over the bay.

Thursday Thoughts: "We Have Our Hats"Bottom left: A foggy day

Of course there are things I need to buy. But there are so many other things I need to appreciate. I am determined to enjoy and appreciate all the lovely things and people in my life. 

Do you have YOUR hats? Have you also found value in older things, comfortable things, smaller things? Or are you younger and more in a growth mode? I would love to know!


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Thursday Thoughts: "We Have Our Hats"

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Susan Rooks 14/10/2016 · #13

#12 I think many of us are becoming stores' worst nightmares, @Deb Helfrich! We buy much less than we did because of many of the things you wrote about. And for me, in my tiny house, luckily there's NO place to put anything. If I want something new, something old has to go. And I really do love the things I chose to surround myself with here.

Thanks for all your continued support. It means a lot to me.

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Deb Helfrich 13/10/2016 · #12

I bought my green pork pie hat around 1988. Cannot say any other hat has ever caught my eye. But living in a place with a view - that's what I collect. I do find myself feeling rather more attached to stuff, I bought my le crueset collection five years ago from amazon and I love the fennel color so much - it makes me happy to think they will be with me until I have a reason to give them away. In some respects, I cherish what I already have, because the world is becoming so much more disposable. Almost everything I have to replace is a shoddier version than the prior one - appliances certainly, but so many things. And the horrific smell that comes with new stuff. I just bought two duffel bags for travel and I had to leave them outside for weeks to air out and ditto for clothes - I have to wash them many times before I can wear them.

Thanks for such an interesting post, @Susan Rooks - it seems many of us are rejecting the overwhelming pressure to keep purchasing, so that we can live according to our own preferences.

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Susan Rooks 13/10/2016 · #11

#9 Thanks, Aaron Skogen! I'm glad you and others can relate. And I had a set of cookware much like yours, but it was heavy and many years ago I gave it away. Sigh. You can't know what don't know until you do.

Yes, the view is amazing and so far, after four years (only two as a full-time resident) it hasn't gotten old. I hope it never does! This village was started in the '30s by a woman who owned all 27 acres right on the bay (just think of that!), and she allowed friends to pitch tents when they had nowhere to live. Those tents morphed into rudimentary cabins (no heat or running water), and those cabins morphed into nice cottages, almost none of them more than about 700 s.f.

I meant this to be a summer place, but I fell in love with the location and decided that I couldn't afford two places anyway, so I might as well make a leap of faith and just live here. Sure glad I did! And good for you and your family to figure some of this out while you're young -- the forties are young, at least from my vantage point -- and focus on what's really important.

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John Rylance 13/10/2016 · #10

Having spent a great deal of time over the last few years clearing out the homes of departed relatives. One involved over 30 trips to the dump, plus hiring a firm to clear larger items. Our sons have made us promise to declutter before we "depart" They've even agreed to help. As if we haven't enough to do enjoying our retirement, as T S Eliot said " measuring out our lives in coffee spoons."

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Aaron Skogen 13/10/2016 · #9

The view is amazing Susan. I'm young, fourties, and we are a family of 5 living in a small home by today's standards. Our foundation is about 650 sq ft, but we do have a second story. We brush elbows in the hallway upstairs. Our view is a little like yours, except were on a lake here in Minnesota. I don't shop, I do however simply walk in to a store, grab a pair of jeans (usually after my bride says I cant wear the existing pair in public anymore), pay and walk out. There is no browsing for me. . . Heck, we have a full set of Le Creuset cookware that my Brides parents purchased in France back in the late 60's, they are brown with wooden handles and still used daily. There is something about that cookware, and there is just something comforting in simplicity. . . Nice post!

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Susan Rooks 13/10/2016 · #8

#5 I think for many of us it is about getting older and seeing what has given us pleasure all these years, Franci! Who needs to worry about stuff? The things I brought from my 2,500 s.f. house to my interim 1500 s.f. condo to here are the things that I love living with. Yeah, a couple/three things are in the basement because I can't quite decide to let them go . . . but all in all, simple works just fine! Good to know you and your husband are seeing this, too.

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Susan Rooks 13/10/2016 · #7

#6 Thanks for that, Julie! I agree. As the MasterCard commercial says, "Priceless." And when I walk around the village, as I do every day it's not pouring, with my dogs, I drink in the views everywhere.

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Julie Hickman 13/10/2016 · #6

Your little village neighborhood is so charming, quaint and beautiful @Susan Rooks. No amount of new and shiny things could equal that view! :-)

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