Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Those of us who come from European backgrounds are familiar with the concept of saving and reusing a tea bag. Often though, the tea bags were just saved, put aside on a small plate for later and when later became never, someone finally threw the limp carcasses away. It perplexed, yet entertained me, this petty and unsightly thriftiness that seemed at odds with the otherwise generous nature of my grandparents and their friends.

But it wasn’t about the money, not really anyway. I’m sure at the beginning it was about being frugal, about coming to America with nothing and painstakingly creating something; it was about scrimping pennies so you could buy the basics that we take for granted, like milk, like fresh eggs, like a tea bag.

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Later on, even when life became more plentiful, saving tea bags reflected a lifestyle. It was more than just washing plastic cups and accumulating shopping bags; it was cherishing each and every possession, every gift that G-d had granted. It was realizing that every item had worth, even after it had seemingly served its purpose in life. It was realizing that in a fast and disposable world even a tea bag deserved a second chance.

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Dr. Chani Miller is an optometrist and writer who lives in Highland Park, N.J., with her family. She is a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press.