I have times that I feel more like I’m from my grandparents’ generation than my own. Not that I consider this a bad thing when I look at some of the lifestyles and choices of people my age. But I digress. I usually get this feeling when I am doing something like saving plastic food containers or mending clothing. It’s impressive to me how far the Great Depression era folks stretched what they did have and what they did without.
I had this feeling again yesterday evening. I was folding and saving aluminum foil from supper that was still clean. Now foil isn’t exactly expensive, but I go though a decent amount when I am roasting. I can’t bring myself to toss clean foil in the recycle bin simply because it covered a glass pan. It could cover that same glass pan again for another dish after all. As I put it away, I noticed a couple others that I had forgotten about. I laughed to myself that I would have to be careful not to turn into my grandmother with stacks of stuff everywhere. (I do draw the line before becoming a pack rat; I keep only what I know I’ll use again soon.)
The thought about my grandma made me stop and think. While I still shake my head at some of my memories of her, she made it through a lot. She was the oldest child and half raised her siblings. She took care of the family while her mom worked, even as far away as St. Louis. I won’t get into the family history of why this all happened, but she had a big job from a young age. Once she was older, she married my grandpa, who was not the easiest man to live with. She worked in Omaha and worked on the then dairy farm grandpa had here. She had a lot of heartbreak and a hard life, but she survived it.
I don’t want to be exactly like my grandparents. They had their faults as both people and parents. But in the end, they produced one daughter, who because of her upbringing is strong and independent. I’ve looked up to my Mama my whole life and continue to. They also made a lot out of not much; saving plastic containers and mending what some would have thorn away.
My grandparents’ generation knew how to make the most of what they had. How to get by without everything they wanted or even needed. This is a “keep the good” situation. We need to bring back this aspect of the previous generation to combat the overly materialistic turn society has taken.