Monday, November 14, 2011

A Simpler Time

I was talking to my dad's cousin, Mary Ellen, on the telephone a week or so ago. I had written to another cousin asking if she could identify an old photograph. The photograph was of an old homestead from the album cousin Julia had. I was hoping it was the home my grandfather grew up in. I'll talk about that story another day.

Mary Ellen was saying that she remembered her folks visiting Julia's grandparents every so often. She said things were different back then. It was nothing, she said, to go visiting kin for the day or longer without planning it in advance. She pointed out that in this day and age, people are not so happy about someone just dropping in unannounced. People have to schedule everything and heaven forbid someone sees the house dirty.

It made me wonder briefly, will we reminisce about these days by fondly recalling sitting in front of our computers at home blissfully posting status updates on Facebook and feeling close to our friends and family when they click the "like" button in response? Nonetheless, it's true that the past seems to have been a simpler time.

A few weeks ago I asked my youngest daughter what she wanted for Christmas. "Christmas??" She replied. "It's too early to think of Christmas!" "Fine," I said lightly, "I don't need to get you anything." The next night her Christmas wish list showed up on my pillow. She was afraid to miss out on the chance of getting anything. One of the things on her list was the chance to see a pen pal friend she had made nearly five years ago at a summer camp she attended. The friend lives about two hours away from us. I told her we could make plans to get that Christmas present if we did it before the snow starts to fly.

This weekend she and I got up early and drove out to meet this friend. They were aware we were coming, but she hadn't seen her friend in five years and had never met any of her family. Once we arrived in their town, we called and asked if they wanted to meet us for lunch first. The friend and her mom, Cindy, came out. We had a good meal and seemed to hit it off pretty well. They in turn invited us to their house afterwards to meet their large family. We wound up staying for the day, even going over to the grandmother's house to meet other family members and had a very enjoyable time. The family was very open and gracious towards us and we felt very comfortable. I recalled what Mary Ellen had said about the past, when people would drop in and visit for a day. It felt like we were a part of that simpler time for a little while.

And while we're on the subject of Christmas presents and simpler times, I wanted to direct you to Cindy's website. Billed as a "new tradition with old fashioned appeal," you'll find a great collection of home made gift ideas that are compiled from a variety of blogs, companies,and craft and hobby resources.

As my daughter now knows, it's not too early to be thinking about Christmas!


  1. When I transcribed a series of letters from my Uncle Ralph, he told about complete strangers showing up and no one ever thought of turning them away. A warm meal, hot coffee and a place to throw their bedding (or coat if that was all they had)was the way of the land. Of course, they lived in northern Minnesota with not so many roads - or people. Folks were always ready to hear news from "whereever." A different world from now.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Joan! I think for all our technological advancements, we are in a lot of ways more isolated than ever before. We are social beings and community is so important to our well-being. I heard Tim Huff of Ontario Canada, speaking on homelessness, say that the problem is not a poverty of resources but a poverty of relationships...