Something Positive For The Holidays
I was in a quandary. Around the holidays I like to write upbeat articles about life and get away from the political melodrama and investment concerns. If I can’t come up with ideas, I sleep on it. Magically, in the middle of the night, an idea pops up.
It didn’t happen this time! I got up, punched the button on the coffee maker, put my oatmeal in the microwave, had breakfast, shaved, took a hot shower and flipped on the computer. Come’ on brain, come up with an idea! Sometimes our brain sneaks up on us.
The good old days…
I began daydreaming about my childhood. When I was in first grade my grandmother lived on a dairy farm. When the school year ended, my mother took me to Union Station, gave the conductor $1.00, and told him to get me off the next day in Cambridge, Ohio. Armed with my pillow, suitcase and $1.00 in my pocket, my adventure began.
I was instructed not to spend my $1.00 until a man got on the train in Lima, Ohio selling sandwiches. A sandwich and carton of milk cost exactly $1.00, no change left for a Hershey Bar.
My grandmother met me the next morning and took me to the farm. There were no kids to play with. My grandparents worked from the crack of dawn until sundown every day of the week. My great-grandmother also lived there. What a grand lady she was, born in 1865.
The farm was a wonderful part of my life. I spent countless hours helping in the garden. I drove the horses when we bailed hay. I learned how to use a flat-blade shovel to clean out the manure trough when the cows were done with milking – twice a day. The manure dried over the winter and was used as fertilizer when the hay was planted in the spring.
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My favorite memories were on the front porch; me on the swing and my great-grandmother in her rocking chair. We prepared bushels of peas, beans, lima beans, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables for my grandmother to can.
My grandmother taught me how to label the jars and where to stack them in the cellar, so they wouldn’t spoil. All the labels faced out, making sure the oldest were in the front.
The next spring most of those Mason jars were off the shelf, washed and set aside for this year’s crop. Unlike my mother who went to the grocery store regularly, our summer was spent preserving food for survival over the winter.
On special occasions, my grandmother made fried chicken. I’d help her catch a chicken in the barnyard. Most folks have never seen a headless chicken run frantically through the yard until it finally falls over. Those early anatomy lessons while preparing the chicken dinner were priceless.
While we had indoor plumbing, we never drank faucet water. Readers who know what a cistern is, please raise your hand. All the gutters funneled rainwater into a deep holding tank. My job was to climb down the ladder into the tank. My grandfather would lower a bucket and haul out the water, one bucket at a time. I scrubbed the bottom and sides of the tank. That water was used for indoor plumbing.
Drinking water came from a well in the front yard. Each day I would pump and help my grandmother haul water into the house. I refilled the metal ice trays and put them in the top of the refrigerator. Ice-cold drinks on a hot day were a Godsend.
On hot summer days I would carry a gallon of cold water out into the field for my grandfather. He would stop the team of horses, take a long drink, then hang the jug on the back of his seat and I would trudge back to the house.
My great-grandmother told stories about the civil war reconstruction and when she saw her first automobile. She called it a machine, never a car. Sometimes we would sing songs together and just laugh and giggle. I wish I had tapes of our conversations but there was no such thing in those days.
Ask any senior citizen how they learned the state capitals, or their multiplication tables. They are likely to tell you that is how we passed the time – being quizzed by family elders, particularly on long auto trips.
I loved listening to the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds on the radio. In order to get those “far away” stations, I had to continually hold the little wire on the back of the radio between my thumb and forefinger. I became the antenna.
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As I look around my office I see two computers, three monitors, an iPad, cell phone, 42″ television, two sets of Bluetooth headphones, and an assortment of gadgets designed to make my life easier – I think!
I thought about writing one of those Christmas articles about how much we have to be thankful for. However, that wasn’t exactly what I was feeling. I started typing to see where I’d go….
We take so much for granted, things that make our lives easier and create free time were not around when I was a kid. How lucky we are to live in a country where we can enjoy these modern conveniences. In some countries much of the population has not progressed very far beyond daily survival. Were it not for my C-pap machine, I probably would not be alive today.
I enjoy being able to tape TV shows and fast forward through the commercials and parts we don’t want to watch. My wife Jo has a library of National Geographic, Smithsonian channel and movies that are fun to watch.
As we prepare for the holidays, I know the young folks will get more presents to unwrap in one Christmas than most previous generations had in their entire childhood.
|“If you’re wonderin’ what this ol’ world is comin’ to, you’re in the same shoes as your daddy, your daddy’s daddy, and every other daddy that’s come down the trail.”
– Texas Bix Bender “Don’t squat with your spurs on, A cowboy’s guide to life.”
Today’s generation have many choices of what to do with their free time. Young people with iPads, cell phones and headphones growing out of the side of their head will never experience a childhood like my generation did. They don’t need their family elders to entertain them.
Today I’m the great-grandfather, attempting to pass on things to future generations like my family elders did for me. It’s hard to get a young person’s attention or hold it for a real period of time. Occasionally we connect, and when we do it’s wonderful. I wonder if our grandparents felt the same way? When our young ones become great-grandparents, I wonder if they will feel the same way about their offspring.
The good side; ask a question like “What is the capital of Scotland” and they can find it in a matter of seconds. It took a lot of time to go to the library, find the right encyclopedia and look it up and find the answer. Unlike my grandparents, I’m thankful we don’t have to work from sunup to sundown in order to survive.
Jo, (aka Grandma Jo) feels things have not really changed that much. If you make the time to get into their world, they will spend hours with you. She gets on the iPad and plays games, occasionally sneaking in an educational game, teaching just like my grandmother did.
When my young grandson gets antsy after finishing his meal, I ask him to sit on my lap. I’m amazed, we talk about all kind of things as the rest of the family finishes up.
Young folks love to teach grandpa and grandma how to use their cell phone or download a new app.
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While I would love for them to know things like how to clean and dress a chicken, maybe it’s not as necessary for them. The old-fashioned lessons about understanding right from wrong – and doing the right things when no one is looking are more important.
The stories about chores, like cleaning cow manure or shucking lima beans may be interesting – learning about a good work ethic is the real message. It can be taught in their world; the chores are just different.
They don’t need our childhood to become responsible adults. They can learn those lessons in their world. The underlying concepts, coupled with unquestionable love and family bonding, is the goal.
What am I thankful for?
I came up behind Jo as she was brushing her teeth. Our eyes met in the mirror and I said, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow old, and grow old with you” and I kissed the top of her head. She responded, with toothbrush still vibrating in her mouth, “I wuv you too”.
How lucky we are to grow old, have good health, and being able to be part of the lives of our offspring.
I’m thankful for the technology that allows me to write and share my ideas with my readers. How wonderful it is when readers let me know they appreciate my thoughts.
We’re headed to Indiana to celebrate the holiday with grandchildren. Our next article will come after Christmas. Turn off the political melodrama, the hyperventilating news and have fun celebrating with your loved ones.
If you don’t understand “See ya on the flip side!”, go ask your grandparents.
On The Lighter Side
We went with our friends, the Omer’s and Carlson’s, to Prescott for their annual parade and Christmas lighting ceremony around the courthouse.
It was in the 40’s when we set up our chairs by the church across the street. A lady asked us if we would help set up chairs for the veterans to view the parade. Of course, we would be glad to help. The church provided breakfast for both veterans and parade workers.
I was pleased when I saw many in the parade come over and hug the older WWII and Korean War veterans. Many more stopped and thanked them for their service.
The parade ended around 2:00 and we moved our chairs to the front of the courthouse for the 6:00 PM evening ceremony. The mayor began by asking high school children to go to the top step with younger grades moving down to the lower level. He spoke about how he grew up in Prescott and remembered starting at the bottom, working his way up as he went through school.
He read a Christmas story with the children singing appropriate carols along the way. As he finished, the lights went out. It was totally dark. In the next instant, all the Christmas lights went on, and it was magical once again.
Then the entire crowd, estimated at 10,000 people, sang Christmas carols together. I am a terrible singer, so I normally don’t join in. I got so caught up with Christmas spirit I chuckled as I found myself singing Jingle Bells….
To end the evening, the mayor proposed to the lady of his dreams, which was pretty neat. We heard and said Merry Christmas at least 100 times throughout the day.
This last photo was taken by my friend Bob later in the evening.
Yes, we sat in the cold with winter jackets, blankets and gloves for the entire day – and we plan to be there next year!
For those who may be concerned about putting on weight over the holidays, friend Shirley A. may have found a solution.
Don’t wash your hair in the shower
(It’s good to finally get a useful health warning)
A WARNING TO US ALL!
I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out sooner! I use shampoo in the shower when I wash my hair. The shampoo runs down my body. Printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning:
“FOR EXTRA BODY AND VOLUME.”
No wonder I have gained weight! Well, I got rid of the shampoo and now I am going to start showering with Dawn dishwashing soap. Their label reads:
“DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE!”
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!
Until next time…