Sunday, November 14, 2010

Modern Day Holidays, Old Fashioned Dreams

The holidays are upon us. I'm not sure where this year has gone, and I was sure to enjoy every second of October and the beautiful changing colors of the trees...I placed almost forty beautiful pumpkins on the porch and deck and around the outside of the house...I just love the Fall. But alas, the winter is creeping in, Thanksgiving is coming soon, and folks are already shopping for Christmas presents. I spend a lot of time in the van, running kids to school and back, and I've noticed several houses sporting Santa figures, holiday wreaths and twinkle lights. All of a sudden, I feel as though I need to hurry and catch up!

This time of year always makes me look backwards. Not only to my own childhood and the magic of the season, but to the days when people were more patient and kind to each other, the children had manners and respect and were happy with very little. Nowadays everyone is rushing constantly; we are so accustomed to having whatever we want, whenever we want. The TV is loud, the advertisements are loud, and the kids demand instant gratification and obsess over video games and need to be constantly entertained. Rarely is there a "Hello" from a passerby in a store or on the street. Everyone is so private. The world isn't safe. We can't just let our children out the door to play and expect them back for supper. An unattended child is too often turning up as a missing child.

But there is much to be thankful for. We have amazing medical abilities and our life expectancy rate has increased considerably over the last century. Indoor air conditioning and speedy microwave ovens and plumbing! Oh thank God for indoor plumbing. The cars we drive today have more in them as far as heat and lighting and comfort than most homes had in the 19th century! So yes, we can be thankful for many, many things of the modern day.

I just wish children knew the value of a dollar and the value of family time. No matter how much they get, they want more, more, more. The TV and radio and internet have almost become a subconscious sermon to their little brains--"Have more, demand more, want more..." I swore my children wouldn't be this way. They would be thankful with very little and appreciate what they had. But somehow we look around us, and here are these kids who are nearly like every other kid on the street, formed by the modern technical age no matter how hard we tried to shield them from it. Sure, we could've built a cabin in the middle of nowhere, home schooled them, stayed as hermits away from the modern day, but would it have been really worked? Our middle son would have died from pneumonia at 18 months; my husband would've collapsed from the manual labor. (He can't even stand to do the dishes once a year let alone chop wood for heat and raise animals for food!) Our only other option would have been to convert to Amish, which I've threatened for years to do, but that, too, would have had huge sacrifices. We would've had to given up daily contact with extended family and that alone would be too hard for even me to live with.

And so, time marches on. Don't get me wrong: I am thankful for everything around me, the blessings we have been given, and the time with each other that we are allowed. I will continue to make our home reflect the old fashioned times and share stories of the old days with our children so that maybe someday, they'll realize how good they have had it in their own lives. To be thankful, to be respectful, responsible, to be loving and caring for others, to be giving of oneself....these things will continue to be the most important, no matter what century we find ourselves living in.

Today, I challenge you....To say hello to a stranger, to give to the needy, to find within yourself, the old fashioned Christmas...share with your loved ones stories of the old days---even the days way before your time...when families had very little, but loved each other, well, big. Love BIG this holiday season. Stop and enjoy the twinkling lights...the store window displays...Don't be so irritated by the bell ringers at the shop doors, but admire them for the time they are giving to a good cause. Take a moment to listen to a senior citizen, and ask them about their childhood or something they remember about their own grandparents. Don't get so caught up in rushing through the preparations that you forget to pause and enjoy what's around you. Consider doing less, and enjoying more.

Let me be the first to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and a Very Merry, Old Fashioned Christmas!

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