I had dinner with my mom a couple weeks ago, and we were discussing her having grown up during the depression.
She told me the story of a neighbor girl about her age named Clare, when mom was about 9 or so. This girl was a recent transplant from dust-bowl Oklahoma. She and her family lived in a tumble-down shack that was down the road a ways from mom's nicer (but still modest) childhood home.
Mom invited Clare to her birthday party, and for her present Clare gave mom a scarf, one with a pretty flower pattern on it.
Mom went to her mother and said, somewhat scandalized, "Mommy, I saw Clare wearing that scarf!"
Grandma said to Mom, "Well, that was all she had, Anne. That was all she had to give."
Mom still gets misty when she tells that story. To me, there is no greater example of childlike simplicity and generosity.
If only we could all be like Clare, the world would be a place of aching beauty and simple love. There would be no poverty, no greed. I hope we can commit ourselves to building such a world.