Sunday, August 16, 2009

Simpler Days

We spent Saturday afternoon at my grandmother's house. She got out her old albums and boxes full of pictures and we lost track of time as we poured over the pictures of days gone by. With pictures scattered all over the living room, we asked my grandma to identify this person and that person. Interestingly, or ironically, the striking part of each picture was its very simplicity.

This picture is of my mother's parents with the first seven of their thirteen, yes, that was thirteen, children. Obviously, in the raising of such a large family, there were sacrifices. The family was far from well off, and they lived in a fairly small house in the country surrounded by farms. But they all worked hard, and they all loved to laugh and have fun.

It is interesting to compare today, complete with our economic "crisis," with those times. I think part of the problem for us today is that we have come to expect more in the way of "things" than our grandparents and great-grandparents did. When you compare our standard of living to that of many others in previous generations, and even today in other cultures, you have to wonder, are we really as badly off as the media would like us to think? Or is it just that we been spoiled to the extent of developing skewed ideas of what distinguishes between "necessities" and "luxuries?"

My mother's family worked hard for what they had. They didn't whine for what they didn't have. When my mother's brothers were old enough to be hired out, they worked for farms in the area - and then voluntarily handed nearly their entire salary to their father at the end of the week. When I compare this to many of the younger generation of today who are thankless for what their parents have invested in them, who seem to expect instant gratification as a right instead of a privilege, it boggles my mind.

I think part of our problem today is that our lifestyle is based on paradigms we have developed that were unrealistic in times past and may be unrealistic going forward. Who knows? It may be that the economy scare will provide enough of a jolt for many of us to return to a simpler lifestyle.

And that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I agree 100%! It's really great that you can spend time with your extended family and learn from them too...a lot of people don't have that opportunity, and many that do don't value it. It's terrific that you do both.

Simpler is almost always better, though when it comes to a temperamental wood-fired kitchen stove, I'll take gas any day. :-) (Real life experiences there)