Good Old Days
A while back I asked what the phrase “The Good Old Days” meant to those I met around town. The one theme people remembered most often was the holidays and being with family. They often spoke of memories from their childhood when it came to the holidays.
Several people I spoke with talked about pleasant things they remembered from those by-gone days. If your memories are of the good times, you are among the very fortunate. I tend to think when looking back and retrieving memories, we sometimes remember events that make us feel a little safer and warmer in our world.
“Popcorn and the Bible,” that was one lady’s answer. She smiled and explained how the family would make popcorn and their father would read to them from the Bible. The person’s face seemed to warm as she spoke of those pleasant memories from the past.
They found a way to renew their beliefs and be together as a family. All it took was the father taking time to read to his children. They did it without a large screen TV playing in the background or texting on hand held devices. It took something special, a father who cared and a family who took the time to listen. Those precious memories are something this person, even after many years, still treasures.
“A big girl’s apron.” One lady remembered a special time in her life with that phrase. I asked why “a big girl’s apron” was so special. She explained that she remembers the first time her mother asked for help with the holiday meal. Her mother gave the young girl an apron that was passed down from her mother. It was long and hung down almost to the point of touching the floor in the kitchen. Looking back she realized it was not that her mother needed help, but simply she wanted to share the time with her. She remembers watching as her mother prepared the holiday meal in the family kitchen. She still returns to that place in her life when the smell of turkey cooking in a warm oven takes her to that special time long past.
In our world, it seems we are always in a hurry to get somewhere in our daily travels. But somehow on Thanksgiving the world around us slows down and we make time for what is really important to us, our family. Most businesses are closed and the world seems to pause on that day we have set aside.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that is about giving thanks by definition. In reality it is about being with family and sharing time and memories. I have been honored by those who I met along the way to sometimes be given the gift to share a glimpse into their “Good Old Days”.
On a warm morning last summer, I asked a friend my question. “When I say the good old days, what does that mean to you?” He paused for a moment and looked into his past before answering. I remember his words as if it were just a moment ago, “Before electricity”.
I have had many responses to my inquiries but none puzzled me as much as this answer. Before I could ask for an explanation the person looked at me with a smile and began to explain.
His family moved to the area when his father found work here long ago. He explained their home was on the outskirts of town. He spoke with warmth and feelings of his family and those times long ago.
After awhile, he explained about one of the chores in the family home. “My job was to fill the kerosene lamp. We had no electricity, so my job was to fill the lamp each day. In the evenings, when dad came home from work and it grew dark outside, he would sit the lamp on the table in our kitchen. I would give him the papers I brought home from school that day-you know the yellow kind with big lines on them for writing. Dad would turn them over to the unused side. On the blank side of the school papers he taught me how to draw. I learned from him in the light of that kerosene lamp on the kitchen table.”
I have learned over the years that when you take the time to talk with people you sometimes are given a gift of something special. It is not something you can put in a bottle or even into words. It is a feeling you get inside. I have been given many special gifts by my simple question of the good old days for those people I met along the way. I went looking for a story, what I got was much more than that.
When you think of each year as one rotation of a merry-go-round, try and believe on your birthday you reach to capture the brass ring to mark another year’s passing. As we grow older it becomes more difficult to touch the ring just past our reach. But, I have found if we look in our pocket we all have a lifetime of brass rings we call memories. For some, it is a time when they believed a letter written to the North Pole was read by Santa. For another, it was sharing time fishing with sons and then grandchildren. For others, it was a time of sharing beliefs with family and a bowl of popcorn. For one person, it was a time before electricity with memories of a father teaching a skill of art to his son by the light of a kerosene table lamp.
Perhaps those brass rings of memories in our pockets have tarnished with the passing years. If when we look at those rings, we begin to see that time has changed some of them into pure gold. That golden warmth of our memories is what we call the “Good Old Days”. The staff of the Wetzel Chronicle and I want to wish you a pleasant Thanksgiving and hope you will share the memories of family on this special day. Feel in your pocket and find your golden memories as we each look Thru the Lens.