I do some quirky things in my day-to-day life. At least, they're quirky to my friends.

I cut the end off my almost-empty toothpaste tube so that I can dig out another couple of brushes' worth of toothpaste; I wash Ziploc bags so they can be reused; I grease baking pans with saved butter wrappers; I swish water around in empty baby food jars to get out the last remnants of food.

Many of my friends laugh at these idiosyncrasies. But, the more I thought about my quirks, the more I became proud of them.

I am proud to be descended from Prairie farmers. My great-grandparents began farming in Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. With great perseverance and no small share of sacrifices, they managed to make a successful life of it. My grandparents began their family during the Depression and stories abound of rat-tails being redeemed for money so that my grandmother could buy flannel for diapers.

My friends' amusement with my recycling quirks made me wonder whether my generation has lost perspective. With some exceptions, my generation of Canadian-born adults has become used to there always being "enough" of whatever it is we want. Be it toothpaste, bags, food, air, water, gas, healthcare, you name it - we are generally unaccustomed to having to "make do".

Pauline Robertson, Maggie, Sam and dad Jason Cruickshank (Ian Robertson photo)

The more I thought about it, the more I decided that they're missing the point: we do not live in a world of limitless anything. Why not fully empty my toothpaste tube?

I believe that my ancestors understood stewardship in a very intimate way. They understood the connection between themselves and the earth, they understood the need to care for one another, and they lived by being creative with the gifts that they had been given.

Perhaps my challenge needs to be, then, how can I instill in my children that creative sense of "making do" that my ancestors seemed to have in abundance? How can I help my children gain respect for "enough"? How can I help my children be good stewards of their time, treasure, and talents?

So I'm encouraged to see my 4-year-old son Sam fish things out of the recycling bin and tell me how we can make a craft out of it. We have a small vegetable patch in our backyard that helps us stay mindful that our food does not just magically appear in Safeway. Someone tends to these crops for us, often at cost to themselves.

The farm which my great-grandparents started over 100 years ago remained in the family until just over a year ago, when my 3 great-uncles - all of whom were in their 80s and still actively farming the 1300 plus acres - decided to sell.

Since then, each of those uncles has died as has my last great-aunt. The mantra within my extended family has been, "It's the end of an era."

I realize now that "the era" whose end I was grieving, along with the rest of my family, is not over in every respect. I can try to continue to follow my ancestors' examples of stewardship and instill those learnings in the next generation.