Although this month has been full of good times, I admit that I’m ready for January to come to a close, as Shane and I wrap up what has become our annual exercise of strict frugality.  We did indeed manage to stick with our commitment of no non-essential spending this month, and maintained a grocery budget of three dollars per day per person, but it was definitely more challenging that I anticipated.  I could write a whole blog post about how difficult it was to give up espresso, or lunch at my favorite Thai place, but since there are so many people around the world making much larger sacrifices out of necessity rather than choice, I will refrain from whining about caffeine deprivation or cabin fever.  Instead, I can see the great deal of good that came out of this exercise: we spent more time in the kitchen together; we wasted less; we enjoyed the outdoors more; we found ‘solidarity’ with other frugal friends by sharing fabulous potluck meals together on Sunday evenings; and we realized that we can and should spend less throughout the year to come, so that we are able to save more and give more.  All good things.

We ended the month in truly frugal fashion, spending the afternoon taking a walk through the wooded park just a couple of miles from our house, and as I started to inwardly grumble a little about the soggy ground, the gray skies, and my hankering for a nice steaming latte, I was struck by the sight of beautiful little leaf buds starting to sprout on the branches of the trees along the path.  It was a nice reminder that life is a series of seasons, and that in Shane’s and my life, there is a season to sacrifice and a season to splurge.  And as long as we living intentionally and giving generously, there will be blessings to count no matter season we’re in.