Needs vs Wants

Princess rotary dial phone: image courtesy of

When I teach the French expressions for “I need” and “I want” (j’ai besoin et j’ai envie), to make it more concrete we make lists. As concrete as possible works best for 7th graders. I do indeed ask them if their parents have explained the difference between the two. The Ex-Ex and I always told Son #1 and Son #2 that it was our job to provide for all of their needs and some of their wants.

Needs: food, a place to live, love, heat when it is cold outside, clothing, education, internet (for our students this is a must at home), books, exercise

Wants: a cell phone, Netflix, the latest in footwear, AirPods or Beats, Xbox and video games (Fortnite)

I even went so far as to make them use some math in French class. Quelle horreur! The iPhone XR was on someone’s list in each of my two 7th grade classes. We talked about the euro, conversion rates for money, the VAT tax in France, the desire for American products, etc. and then we put it into practice. We are an iPad school so I asked the little darlings to go on the French Apple website and do a little research. Great vocabulary there to learn as well. À partir de 855,28 euros. Beginning at 855.28 euros. Conversion rate at the moment, using TravelEx currency converter: 855 euros = $1049. Apple price in the US as of today: $749. (Almost makes me want to check into trading in my iPhone 8… I need to make my own needs vs wants list, n’est-ce pas? Hang on, that’s coming later.) Will they remember the difference between the two expressions? I hope so. And maybe a tiny life lesson hidden in there as well. When I was a 7th grader, I wanted that pink Princess phone. My aunt had one and I used it at my grandparents’ house whenever I could get away with it.

I am not much into making long lists of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe at one point in my life I did so. Now I tend to think in terms of what I am grateful for in my life and how to keep myself on track that way. So, to welcome in 2019, my 61st year on this planet, I will work on my list in terms of needs vs wants:


Christmas Eve cookies at Gramma’s house

My family’s safety and health. The Ex-Ex, Son # 1 and #2, the Most Adorable Granddaughter, Mama Mildred, Best Mother-in-Law, my siblings and siblings-in-law, nieces, nephews, great-nephews. The whole crew.

My warm, cozy home. We have more room than we need, but occasionally it is filled up with family. It’s close to everything we need and want in our daily lives, school included. No traffic jams for me!

Healthy food. I have access to all the delicious food I can prepare for my family or find in a local restaurant if I don’t feel like cooking. (I do need to eat more fruit and vegetables- I feel a resolution creeping in here.)

A reliable car to get me wherever I need to go. My 2017 Ford Escape does the job quite well. I found it used (only 4,000 miles) and it is fancier than I would have picked out new- who needs seat warmers, but I sure want them on cold mornings!

Love. I have an abundance of that. My family. My friends. My colleagues. My students. My former students. I am a very lucky girl in this area.

Exercise. The weather here is pretty mild year round so I can get out and walk for exercise and fresh air. (I need to do more of this… eek. A second resolution. The thought of climbing the nearly 300 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe in March should motivate me.)

2017 trip to Paris- AP and my black tennis shoe

Travel. Need or want? Technically a want, I know. But I love trips. Near and far. 2018 was a good year for travel for me: France twice, Sunset Beach, Carolina Beach. Austin, Texas. Charleston, South Carolina. Appalachian Mountains. Washington, DC and Washington, NC. Roan Mountain. Fender’s Farm, TN. Spruce Pine, NC. Raleigh. Cary. I am sticking to this as a need. (I gave the Ex-Ex his own carry-on size lightweight suitcase for Christmas. And made him promise that we will continue to use it.)

In case you want to see my 2018 travels, I created an album of photos.

Good books, art, music. Once again, maybe a want, but for me a need. Nourishment for my mind and soul.

2018 was a good year, although it certainly had its share of sadness. My family is still feeling the effects of the passings of my father-in-law and my mom’s second husband early in the year. There has been cancer and other illnesses to contend with among my family, friends, and students. Some of our political leaders have not been kind or caring. There is still too much inequity in our land of plenty. Any inequity is too much. However, I feel optimistic about 2019. Maybe we will collectively pay more attention to the needs of others. Perhaps that would be the best New Year’s Resolution?

I make these cookies every year at Christmas time. Miss Adorable is now quite fond of them. This recipe was given to me 25-30 years ago by a very dear friend, Jean.

Molasses Crinkles

makes 3-5 dozen, depending on the size!

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 c. molasses

2 1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Granulated sugar

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg and molasses and beat until well-blended.  Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.  Chill dough for at least one hour.  Shape the dough in one-inch balls (rolling it between your hands works really well if the dough is well chilled).  Roll balls in granulated sugar and place two inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.  Adjust baking times to the style of cookie you prefer– I like mine soft so I bake them for about 9 minutes.  Baking them longer makes them more like traditional ginger snaps.

And now, thanks to my fabulous sister-in-law, I have the perfect cookie jar. It is a replica of one that my very own Grandma Bell had in her kitchen. I wrote about becoming a Cookie Jar Gramma in this post from 2017.

Humpty Dumpty

And I have my very own helper. You’d better believe that I have been looking forward to this day!

Gramma’s helper

Bon appétit to all and to all a kinder, gentler, more grateful 2019! To end the year, I am looking to quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to guide my thoughts. Here is one of my favorites, inscribed on the wall at the MLK, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC:

Martin Luther King Jr.
image from

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture of their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

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