“Hand Me Downs”

My children know what hand-me-downs are.  Especially the younger ones.  Sometimes when looking through photo albums one of my children will say something like, “That dress (or shirt) was mine.”  They then usually rehearse the history of ownership.  “Meagan got it new… and then Jessica wore it… then I got it… then Brittany… and now Clarissa is wearing it.”  Quietly, I think to myself, “WOW, my Scottish ancestors would be proud of us.  Waste not, want not.”

            Well, last night I happened to be looking through a “word album” in stead of a photo album.  Amelia came along and asked what I was working on.  My answer and ensuing conversation went something like this.

“These are old proverbs I’m going through.  They are listed by the country of origin.  I’m looking up the ones from the different countries that our family came from.”

She joined in, and we were soon engrossed comparing proverbs.  I was familiar with more than she was.  Some of them were new to both of us.  Some we liked and they added meaning to our understanding.  Some of them were archaic and we just scratched our head at.  I didn’t really relate to any of the Norwegian proverbs like, “A wooer should open his ears more than his eyes.”  We both looked at each other and shrugged in befuddlement. 

Through all of this, I was surprised at how many of the proverbs were not only familiar to me, but actually a part of my speech and thinking.  As I looked at the Danish proverbs, I thought of my Danish family, the Jensen’s.  While looking at the German proverbs, my family the Tillack’s, Von Dietrich’s, Everett’s and Schultze’s’s came to mind.  While perusing the Scottish proverbs, my Smith family was in mind.  And the many pages of English proverbs caused me to think of my English Families the Tansers, Rubbra’s and Websters. 

Last night, the time Amelia and I spent reading these things was fun.  In fact this morning, it was still on my mind.  Like my daughter seeing in an older family photo album pictures of “her clothes” that she has just discovered once belonged to an older sister, I have discovered words and phrases that I thought got new.  Now I see many of my favorites which are actually “hand me downs” from parents, grandparents and on back.  I am pleased with this one more connection I feel with my family who came before me.     

            Proverbs that like.  Some are new to me, some are old.  


Danish Proverbs

“A rich child often sits in a poor mother’s lap.”

“He who leaps high must take a long run.”

“It is hard to pay for bread that has been eaten.”

“There is no need to fasten a bell to a fool.”

“Though the bird may fly over your head, let it not make its nest in your hair.”



English Proverbs

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

“A man is as old as he feels himself to be.”

“A man may lead a horse to water, but cannot make him drink.”

“All evils are equal when they are extreme.”

“An empty purse frightens away friends.”

“An ill workman always blames his tools.”

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

“As good have no time as make no good use of it.”

“Beggars cannot be choosers.”

“Children are a poor man’s riches.”

“Death always comes too early or too late.”

“Deeds are fruits, words are leaves.”

“Dogs that bark at a distance never bite.”

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

“Every dog hath its day.”

“Fame is a magnifying glass.”

“Give the devil his due.”

“God help the rich, the poor can look after themselves.”

“He teacheth ill, who teacheth all.”

“He that marries for wealth sells his liberty.”

“He that scattereth thorns must not go barefoot.”

“He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom.”

“Honesty is the best policy.”

“Kill not the goose that lays the golden eggs.”

“Lend your money and lose your friend.”

“Let sleeping dogs lie.”

“Make hay while the sun shines.”

“Many eyes go through the meadow, but few eyes see the flowers.”

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.”

“No time like the present.”

“One hair of a woman draws more than a team of oxen.”

“One of these days is none of these days.”

“Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.”

“Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

“Six hours’ sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.”

“Talk of the devil and he is sure to appear.”

“Time trieth truth.”

“Tomorrow is a new day.”

“We live and learn.”

“Youth looks forward but age looks back.”


German Proverbs

“A little too late is much too late.”

“A teacher is better than two books.”

“All or nothing.”

“Beware of a silent dog and still water.”

“Fat hen lays few eggs.”

“He who has once burnt his mouth always blows his soup.”

“He who holds the ladder is as bad as the thief.”

“In the visible church the true Christians are invisible.”

“There are many preachers who don’t here themselves.”

“When God says today, the devil says tomorrow.”

“Where God has a temple, the devil has a chapel.”
“Where the devil cannot come, he will send.”

“Who begins too much accomplishes little.”


Scottish Proverbs

“A penny saved is a penny gained.”

“Better keep the devil at the door than turn him out of the house.”

“It is ill fishing if the hook is bare.”

“Never marry for money.  Ye’ll borrow it cheaper.”

“One may ride a free horse to death.”

“What baites one, banes another.”

3 thoughts on ““Hand Me Downs””

  1. Really liked a lot of those proverbs…and so true so true.  I’m sure the ones you didn’t understand made great sense at the time…..just had to be there.. haha… Well, have a fun night.  I’m sure it will be better then mine…

  2. Hi again,
    What great old family pictures you have!! You must be very proud of them. You have the closest "ethnic" background to me as anyone I know. I am German, Danish, English, and Irish.

  3. How well I remember my Danish father saying, "If wishes were horses, all begger would ride."  Great list you have there.. lottiemae

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