Having described myself as a night owl for years, I have never been a fan of mornings. Oddly enough, since my daughter has started back to school this year, I have awakened between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. without an alarm. When this had happened in the past, my usual choice had been to try to force myself back to sleep resulting in frustration if I was unsuccessful. If I was lucky enough to doze off, inevitably, I’d slip back into a near-comatose slumber. It seemed like mere seconds before the alarm jolted me back to life reminding me a little bit of defibrillator paddles. I would then experience a certain amount of sleep inertia and agonizing grogginess as I would grumblingly haul my body out of bed and heavily trudge my way to my work station in the kitchen. UGH!!!
I have been opting, instead, to open my eyes and start allowing myself to go through a mental checklist about what I have on my agenda for the day. My mother and husband have both been on me for years to make a list. My response: “That’s not how I roll!” I now submit to the list! Though I see the merit in routine, I would never have described myself as being regimented. Just between you and me, I am enjoying going to the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee, and while it is gurgling, reading my daily devotional, two chapters in the Bible, and spending a little time with God.
I once heard, that years ago, you weren’t considered educated if you hadn’t read the Bible. I thought, “I profess my Christianity, but how well do I know the Bible?” Soooo… I started with Genesis. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” I have made it to Ecclesiastes which is believed to be written by the wise King Solomon as he gets into the twilight of his years and reflects upon human existence. This morning a particular verse gave me pause in which I, too, was reflective. ‘Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions…When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about your future.’ Ecclesiastes 7:10,14
Wow. I thought about all the times recently that I find myself lamenting the current state of affairs in our world, and, even closer to home, our country. The verse’s associated devotional suggested that we look for today’s gifts instead of our very selective rose-colored memories of the past. In my close circle of influence, I recognize a multitude of gifts: my family and friends, my health, my faith, etc. Technology has bestowed upon us Skype and FaceTime with which we are able to see our loved ones in real time. We have portable all-in-one computer/camera/phones the size of a deck of cards that we can easily slip into our pockets. They store thousands of our favorite songs, photos, and videos that can be uploaded to FaceBook and a host of other social media websites to be instantly shared with family and friends, some of which we haven’t seen in 30-40 years. That is really cool stuff! I get that.
What I am wondering about in my reflection? Are my memories rose-colored and selective? In the “good ol’ days”, our music was less vulgar and more discreet in its sexual innuendoes. For example, “Mama’s got her squeezebox, Daddy never sleeps at night” were lyrics of implied sexuality but it wasn’t as in your face as are the licentious lyrics of many contemporary artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and even some Katy Perry. Thank heavens for a little Taylor Swift for our kids to listen to! I fondly recall Motown, Barry Manilow, Glenn Campbell, Disco, The Bay City Rollers, The Little River Band, Lynard Skynard, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Classic Rock, Gino Vanelli, Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Toto…am I wrongly remembering a time of better melodies with acceptable lyrics? Popular music has devolved into harsh rhythms and gutter-speak that comes with a warning about explicit content. Where is the musical quality?
Years ago, I purchased a CD by Outkast that had a song “Hey Ya”…”Shake it like a polaroid picture”. Driving in my convertible, I was listening to the rest of the CD. I was sitting at a traffic light next to a minivan with its windows open that was loaded with children. The lyrics got so vile, I turned it off! What is the purpose? I haven’t listened to it since. Songs by Eminem, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, include lyrics that are overtly sexual or openly dropping the “F” bomb! Is it really music or is it profanity accompanied by an overzealous mixer that has a fondness for a heart-pounding, thundering subwoofer? Is it a contest to see how repugnant one can get?
When I was young, our sitcoms included The Andy Griffin Show, Gomer Pyle, Hogan’s Heroes, McCale’s Navy, Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Ed, The Munsters, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, and Growing Pains. The shows were decent, AND some had parents, and even grandparents, around giving the children guidance. Today’s sitcoms such as iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, Victorious and Sam and Cat either have no parents on the show and they are being raised and influenced by peers, or the mother wears the pants in the family and the father is a blundering boob.
Who doesn’t prefer the nostalgic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy or…wait for it…The Year Without a Santa Claus…”I’m Mr. Heat Miser! I’m Mr. Hundred-and-One!”?
Even though we have the movies in DVD, I still look for these classics in the newspaper to find their showtimes. Only now, I have to search amongst a calendar starting Thanksgiving week that has 30 days of Christmas shows that are shown and repeated over the month. Nope…it isn’t as special as it was back in the “good ol’ days”, because then, we were only able to see them one time every December. In recent years, we have a twenty-four hour marathon of A Christmas Story on TBS on Christmas Day. Who doesn’t love it when Ralphie escapes getting his eye shot out with the BB gun only because he is wearing glasses? Will we eventually be subjected to twenty-four hours of Shrek the Halls???
Recently, my mom recommended that I get my daughter to come up with one meal per week: I will get the ingredients, and then she will cook it. We have now done it three times. It takes a lot of patience on my part, because I want to get it done as quickly as possible. Growing up, I remember my mom appointing me as her personal sous chef, so it is only fitting, that I have my own. I must say, she LOVES it. She enjoys taking ownership and is learning that the food doesn’t just show up on the plate. The memories that I have spending that time in the kitchen sure beat going to a restaurant or drive-thru which seems to be the preference these days. I even think some people that eat out all the time have adapted palates that would rather have a Chipotle Burrito then home cooking…not me! It is a labor of love that makes the house smell like a home. I think spending time as a family in preparing the meal is something that is going the way of the dinosaurs.
Perhaps, traditions are part of those rose-colored memories. Aren’t they what make us who we are? With the holidays quickly approaching, most of us look forward to rekindling those time-honored rituals that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Every year over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom, daughter and I ice gingerbread cookies and take them to the firefighters and/or policemen to show our gratitude to those who are working over the holiday weekend. Due to the gift of technology, I greatly appreciate that I will be able to have a face-to-face conversation with my brother and sister-in-law on Thanksgiving Day! Better yet, standing in the kitchen slicing and dicing, basting and tasting alongside my mom and daughter will be most assuredly a timeless joy…just like “the good ol’ days”!