Last night I read my kids the Goose who laid Golden Eggs. I like to read them stories that explain what unearned wealth can do to people. Specifically that greed in any form is rarely good.
I grew up with very little surrounded by wealthy people who were always miserable, never seemed to work and inexcusably neglected their children. In contrast I felt fortunate to have a mother who was always around, figured out ways to get us every opportunity and made sacrifices she never drew attention to. I didn’t resent my absent father. I worked hard and just got on with things. Men seemed to be the reason all the women I knew were so unhappy, so although puzzled by his leaving, viewed it as a blessing.
In the fairy tale a hungry peasant wonders how he’ll survive the winter penniless as he’s now too old to work. A stranger appears and gives him a white goose telling him “Take care of my goose and my goose will take care of you. “
As if by magic the stranger disappears and the peasant knows the goose is magically enchanted and feeds it the last grains of food he has and makes a nest for it to sleep.
The next morning he’s rewarded with a golden egg which he promptly sells for a great deal of money. The daily ritual repeats itself allowing the peasant to buy everything he needs – furniture, clothing, food in abundance. But his new found riches turn his head and he soon grows hard and greedy. Seven golden eggs a week are no longer enough to sustain his lifestyle and he torments himself with thoughts of how to get more. Immediately.
It doesn’t end well (does it ever?) and in a fit of greed the peasant kills the goose that faithfully laid him golden eggs for years. Horrified by his actions he tries in vain to revive her and sure enough the stranger reappears. “I told you to take care of my goose and my goose would take care of you.” he says reproachfully and gathers up the goose’s body. The greedy peasant soon becomes poor just as quickly as he had become rich, because despite all he has, it can’t sustain his wealthy lifestyle. He needs the goose and selfishly regrets his actions.
I love reading Fairy Tales. Not the Cinderella kind, the H C Anderson, Aesop cautionary tales of folly and redemption that make us reconsider our values and overall behaviour. I know the choices I would make if faced with sudden poverty, homelessness, untimely death or magic wealth. But my children are cocooned from realities of hunger and going without. They think my not having a car is unnecessary hardship even though their father has 2.
Money can buy you lots of things, but it can’t buy your dream interior. A home takes love and time to put together and many of your most amazing pieces will have memories from childhood that shop bought items never sell.
I’ve created some amazing homes for myself but there’s nothing quite as precious as the memories of your first home.
The home in East London where I grew up.
There’s more to life than marrying geese that lay golden eggs and pampering their egos by keeping home and re-gilding lavish nests that become too much. There’s a reason why the peasant strangled the goose. He didn’t work, had too much time on his hands and in the end one golden egg a day just wasn’t enough. In our haste to become rich, often we become poor – in health, in friendships, in everything but the one thing that doesn’t matter. Tomorrow I’ll be reading them The Hare and the Tortoise.
Woodlands, my home now