It’s All Been Done

It was a simple conversation about how nothing seems “special” anymore, about how it’s all been done many times – the food, the movies, the trips – and suddenly we realized that we are now the people who see the world as too fast, too technologically consumed, too rich and disposable, spoiled.  And then it exploded into one example after another and our own version of “Grampa, tell me about the good old days …” (which, incidentally, has a very good message that still rings true even thirty years later…)

We talked about how we’ve been noticing it moving in this direction for some time and that we can’t imagine how anything that comes from now on could be a “surprise” or a shock to us after all we’ve seen, how there seems to be nothing left to our imagination anymore because the greatest things we can think of are either already happening or just another result of what’s already going on.  


We talked about how kids don’t often play outside anymore or make their own fun or even know about classic children’s stories, songs and fairy tales, and about how going out to eat at a place like McDonalds was a real treat for kids but now they’re everywhere and people are driving through, eating on their way to somewhere else.


We talked about a conversation I had been involved in earlier that day about braided rugs and how I remember them being made in my younger days, and that when the lady at “the store” mentioned the tools to keep the strips of fabric in place and help them to fold properly I suddenly had a picture in my mind from childhood and I knew exactly what she meant.  I don’t know if my mom had some or if I just saw them being used somewhere, but as soon as she started to describe them I knew.  This kind of conversation happens often when I’m at “the store”. (In our house we don’t have to name the store because we always know exactly which store we are talking about!)


We also agreed that this is one of the reasons we like “the store” so much: the people there think like we do about home and family, making and building things by hand, sharing moments that aren’t just about what you are making but why and what kind of fun you are having doing it.  It’s a store with things and people that remind us of ways that we can take back some of what this crazy world has lost and in a way reclaim it for ourselves.


We talked about how the world is a smaller place now and everyone can reach out and touch someone across the globe in a matter of hours because we have monstrous multi-level jets to fly us wherever we want to go.  The things we saw in movies that made our chins drop are now really just around the corner.  Many children will have seen more of the world by the time they’re ten years old than I will ever see, and a yearly or more often vacation to a tropical spot is becoming the norm for many families.  While en route, the inflight movie is showing some other wonderful place you might want to visit next.  We concluded that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, just that it’s more expected than special or amazing.


We talked about old shows like Buck Rogers, and how it was exciting back then to think that somehow, someday the world might actually look like that, but noticed that now there’s no more wonder in science fiction.  Other than beaming up Scotty, the world of science and technology has pretty much done it all.  They still don’t know for sure if there’s anyone else out there to beam us back, but even the alien movies can’t shock or amaze anymore, and we’re noticing that all the movies of today that we find to be really good, whether set in ancient, modern or futuristic times, are more about the human spirit and what makes the world good in the most basic sense than they are about imagining possibilities.  They’re running out of ways to amaze us.


The funny thing here – or perhaps the enlightening thing – is that “WE” were not myself and another middle-aged person sharing deep thoughts.  This conversation was with my daughter who, at twenty-six, has realized that she’s already seen it all.


Don’t get me wrong – I love my power tools, my computer and my mobile devices for the convenience they provide (and the memory, by way of a calendar that pops up reminders for me in my less-than-with-it moments) and I’m not knocking the TV, the modern household appliances or the indoor bathrooms.  I like to be warm in winter and I don’t like chopping wood.  


But when I watch favourite old programs like the Waltons and Road to Avonlea, something in me wants to be there, away from this fast-paced complicated world.  I know they had their problems as do people in every era, but there’s something I envy in the idea of keeping all your money in a jar in the cupboard and not having to worry about paying for anything but food and clothing, because there were no light, heat, or water bills in the mail.  I see the simplicity, with the house and furniture that dad built, the family time around the kitchen table where people talked and laughed, the after supper time at the old radio curled up in blankets mom made, and later the husband and wife time out on the front porch swing, and I just want to grab some of it.  Life was filled with homemade goodness and it wasn’t just because they didn’t have the machines to take away the work; there was satisfaction and enjoyment in the making of things, in the making of a home.  


My mom taught me to sew my own clothes when I was nine years old and while I rarely sew anything now, that skill got me through many years of sewing things for myself, my husband, my kids, and our home, and if I need to sew I certainly can!  It was the first of many crafts I learned along the way (whenever a new one came along, my mom would buy supplies and give them to me to learn to do it!) and while the hobbies have changed, the enjoyment of making things is always there.  My mom still knits and quilts and has made sure that even her grandchildren have baby sweaters stashed away for when they have their own families.  I am grateful for the homemade things we had growing up and that my mom passed on to me the skills and the desire to make things with my own hands.


I honestly don’t intend to sound like the senior who constantly reminds young people about the olden days and how things were better then, because some things are better now.  It’s just that once something good comes along it seems to go so far that we lose the “something good” that we had before.   

There are many good things about modern life, and I’m happy to take advantage of those that interest me.  But I don’t really know if they make the world a better place or just a different one. 


I do know now that making and building things myself has given me a sense of taking back something that’s been lost, reclaiming something from a simpler time and making it happen here and now for me.  I know that next time there are little boys riding their bikes through the ditch along our backyard I will be thankful for the reminder that some kids do still play outside and make their own fun.  And I know that I’m glad my daughter is adamant that her children will learn about fairy tales.

I guess I’ve officially become old fashioned, but I’m OK with that 🙂


Generation gap? I don’t think so …

I know I’m middle aged and that sometimes as we get older we notice the younger generation doing things differently than we did them.  I understand that new information, research, and experience can change ideas when it comes to health, fitness, psychology, etc. but there are some things that make me wonder if certain people are victims of a reverse evolution process we don’t know about.  

The first time I saw a picture of a bride and groom sitting on a motorcycle in a mud hole with smiles on their faces and dirt and mud splashed all over the wedding dress, I assumed it was on purpose since they appeared to be having fun, but I was more than a little puzzled.  OK, honestly I was appalled and disgusted.  So off I went to my trusty source of information on all things “modern” – my daughter – to ask what the heck was going on.  She informed me that there is now a new thing called “trashing the dress”  and that lots of brides are doing it.  HUH?  Yes, that’s what I said.  OK, honestly I probably dropped a few expletives in disbelief.

Why on earth would someone do this?  With what I am hearing about the cost of weddings (a whole other discussion if my opinion on that were to be presented!) it is inconceivable to me that anyone would take a beautiful part of their wedding and trash it on purpose and make sure there are pictures to prove how stupid “cool” they were.  Some might ask what they are supposed to do with the dress after the wedding anyway, which clearly shows me that this “new thing” is a short term idea with no connections to nostalgia or sentiment.

I’m not saying brides should all save their dresses forever, and I’m not going to tell anyone what they should do with theirs.  But the idea of completely ruining a perfectly good dress doesn’t compute in my brain.  My mom saved hers –  not for me to wear, as she didn’t buy into the practice of pressuring a daughter by pulling out her own dress as soon as the engagement was announced.  She cut it up to make a baptismal gown, a fitting use of a special item and a way to save even just a small part of it for a future generation to appreciate.  I still have it.

I didn’t cut up my own dress up for a similar purpose because I wanted to make special baptismal gowns for each of my children to have for their own treasure chests.  I don’t expect my daughter to wear it – it is NOT her style and I truly hope she never fits into it because it isn’t “petite”! – and I don’t know what I will end up doing with it but, if nothing else, there’s some great fabric in it that’s already paid for and could prove very useful should a need for it come along.

There are people who sell their dresses and get back some of the money they put into them (a practical decision) and some who donate them so that others who can’t afford to buy one can still have a nice wedding dress (a generous decision).  But simply trashing it for the sake of some goofy pictures and a new fad is beyond me.  

That leads me to the next “new thing” that rattles my brain: the smash cake.  Again, I went to my information source and was told that now, instead of simply taking pictures of your cute little one year old on their birthday with their piece of cake smeared all over their high chair table and their face, parents are opting for the smash cake, which is a separate cake in addition to the actual cake that is served to everyone else at the party.  This extra cake is made especially for smashing and photographing.  HUH? Are these the “trash the dress” parents?  Not necessarily, but apparently “everyone is doing it now.”  OMG.  

And get this: because so many parents are now ordering expensive custom cakes for their children’s birthdays, they are actually ordering and paying for the extra custom smash cake too!  Breathe……… I cannot imagine making this into some kind of ritual, but if my drugs ever failed me and I found myself needing to do this, I think I would opt for spending $3.00 on a cake mix to whip up a smashable cake myself, or better yet just cut a piece of the one I just spent upwards of $100 on for the other guests, let the kid smash that, and put the rest of the money into the college fund.  I have nothing against custom cakes if people can afford them and choose to buy them; they look amazing.  I have an issue with wasting money and food and teaching kids that it’s funny.

Maybe all of this blows my mind because I was raised in a practical home where money was hard earned and carefully budgeted and when I got married I sewed my own dress along with all the dresses for my bridal party and they meant something to me (of course not everyone can do this, but you get the point).  Maybe it’s because my mom baked our cakes herself (which was in itself a special gesture on her part) and found creative ways to make them look like all sorts of cool things, and later passed the cake book on to me so I could do the same for my kids (we have great pictures at a fraction of the cost of today’s smashing photos).  Maybe it’s because I’ve always tried to find practical ways to do things and use things and make the money count.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never been one to jump on the latest idea train and ride it until it goes over a cliff. Whatever the reason, I just don’t get it.

Is this about a generation gap?  Is it about differing ideas on health, fitness, psychology or any other new information that has come to light in order to help parents and families navigate the 21st century?  Nope.  In my opinion it’s a gap in logic and common sense.  It’s happening because some people have more money than brains they know what to do with and they jump on board with every new thing that comes along so their scrapbooks and memories look just like everyone else’s.  God forbid a child should have to go without the same toys, clothes, parties, etc. that “everyone else” is getting!

Luckily for me, my source of information on all things modern is sentimental, nostalgic and traditional.  She’s looking forward to baking special cakes for her own kids and doesn’t care if they compete with something expensive that some other kid might have.  She has a mind of her own, common sense, and enough of an individual spirit to sit back and see all of this for what it is: a ridiculous fad.  Whew!  At least I won’t have to worry about hanging muddy wedding dress pictures on my wall …