It's nice to reflect back on your childhood, visit places that meant a lot to you (like the park where you had family picnics), see old friends, and remember things you used to do, like jumping off of the shed in your friend's back yard for fun (um, why did we do that?). I recently spent a little over 7 weeks at my mom's place, trying to nurse her through an illness so we could bring her back home to live with us (different states). That did not work out the way I planned, my mom lost her battle with her newly diagnosed Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) very quickly (too quickly), but she did have a couple of good weeks where we spent time reminiscing, going through some things together and visiting old haunts (though that was difficult for her sometimes too). Now that I'm home and reflecting on that time (the sadness and missing her comes in waves), I was thinking well, there are some things I did, that I really enjoyed, that my kids will never do. Does that make my time or their time better? Neither. It just makes them different, and that's okay because it makes those memories special now, just to me. I will admit, it was very cool though, to swing in the same park with my youngest (and I have with all of his siblings as well), that I did with my mom. Those kinds of feelings/memories are priceless, as they should be.
So, as bloggers sometimes do, I made a list. There are many more I could add, but I'll keep it short. Here are 10 things I thought of that I liked to do, that my kids will never get to do.
1. Wait for the passing train to get to the end so I can wave at the man in the caboose (man, it was cool that he would wave back).
2. Run to the track after the train had passed to pick up the quarter that would now be flat (we always flattened quarters, what a total waste of money).
3. Fill up a bag of candy at the drugstore for a dollar. Literally, you could fill up a little brown paper bag for a dollar. I would spend a good amount of time making just the right decisions too, and start eating as soon as I got out of the store...usually a powder lollipop or a big Sweet Tart...sometimes a Now and Later (so bad for your teeth!). Or if I felt like getting a Marathon Candy bar that day, and those were my absolute favorite (a long braid of caramel covered in chocolate), I would start peeling because the chocolate always came off so much on those wrappers (but as a kid, it was the least of my concerns). I was also careful to get a pack of trading cards too, with a stick of bubble gum in it, to add to my collection. I know there was more than one type that I collected, but at the moment I can only remember trying to get each of those that belonged to the Charlie's Angels collection (the original Charlie's Angels with Farah Fawcett and later Cheryl Ladd).
4. Experience the joy of a huge stereo being delivered to your room, complete with storage for your records (and later CDs). Every woman in my family had a big stereo, including me, and we all had impressive tape, record, and later CD collections. Nothing like the 32,000 songs I have on my current device but it was different... I don't know why. Less disposable, maybe? More tangible? I don't know, but I sure loved each and every stereo I had over the years.
5. Loving the weekly sitcoms that you could literally only watch once a week. Right now there are so many choices available to watch shows 24-7, that there is no anticipation of getting to see them. Is it better now? Probably. But it was still fun to gather round the tube with your family and watch that one show everyone loved but only came on once a week. For me it was Bionic Woman, for the whole family it was Dallas...and we had to wait a whole season to see who shot JR, as it ended on a cliffhanger that ticked everyone off, and left them eagerly anticipating the show's return.
|I would be remiss if I didn't add this to my list of '10 Things...'|
6. Almost everything we ate was fresh or made from scratch, served in dishes (some of which I have in my own kitchen to this very day), and set on the table at the same time of night, every night with each member of the family happy to be joining. Then the ladies all joined in to do dishes. Grandma would wash, mom would dry, and I would do whatever they wanted while I happily buzzed around them chit-chatting (or sitting on the tall step stool I loved, if I was getting in the way, which wasn't something they told me I was doing, but I figured out years later). Of course, even for my generation, this happened primarily at my grandparent's place. Mom was more of a 'God helps them who helps themselves' kind of cook. She'd make it and you had to go serve yourself from the pans. Less dishes, I suppose, but the other way was nicer. Grandma wore an apron too, usually a half-apron. She had a drawer designated just for them, and she folded them just so to put them away after they were washed. Everyone appreciated those meals, including mom. For many years, we lived close enough that we'd walk from our place, to my grandparents for many of our meals. Not because we had to (though maybe that too, now I think about it) but because it was nice to do so, and everyone enjoyed it.
7. Stretching a phone cord way too far to take into an area (my room, for me and in my best friend's kitchen pantry when we were at her place) where you could get some privacy for your 'oh so important' conversations. And while we're at it, asking the operator to cut in on a friend's conversation because the line was ringing busy way too long, and you really 'needed' to get through to talk to them too. No wonder my mom put time limits on my phone use (how long I could talk, and the latest time a call could be made). I remember being so irked at her unreasonable limitations. How funny to look back on that now, and know I'd have done the same.
8. While we're talking phones, I'll mention pay phones. If you had car trouble, or needed to call someone while you were outside, you'd walk up to a pay phone, drop a quarter in (I think it was a dime when I was really young) and be connected for x amount of time to your party. If you went too long you had to add more money or your call would be disconnected. If you didn't have coins, you could call collect. Parents always took collect calls, and grouched at you afterwards to remember to carry a coin.
9. Playing all day, outside. Or having friends over at will. There were no scheduled 'play dates.' Kids got up, went outside and made their own play dates. I remember visiting elderly people in their homes, regularly (and they were glad to have ya), being in my friends' homes, and my friends being at my place. If you were staying inside too long, you asked permission to use their house phone to let your parents know where you were (it was hard to tell when it was getting dark if you were inside, so you'd better make that call so you didn't get into a world of trouble being late...and 'late' meant when it was about to get dark). You'd tell the parent in the home what time you had to leave, and they'd remind you when it was time to go. Sometimes your mom would come over and visit your friend's mom and that would be awesome because it meant extra play time.
10. Walk in without the other members of your family knowing you were coming over. It didn't matter if we were coming from our place to gram's when I was a kid, or from out of state when I was grown. It didn't matter if I was showing up at home, or at my grandma's, with or without their knowledge, I just walked in. I remember surprising my family once at Christmas time. I loaded all of the gifts and the kids into the car and drove 1200 miles so we could have Christmas with the family. We snuck up to the door, me in front and the kids right behind, opened the door and walked right in. I still remember everyone being so happy we were there. My mom jumped up to come to us and my grandma started crying. It's certainly not like that anymore. I have to make an appointment to go see my grown kids (everyone is always so busy, myself included). And of course you can't leave your doors open like that anymore. It sure was nice that we could do that then. Yes, it sure was nice.
I know this generation will have different memories they cherish. That's just how that goes, and thank goodness for it. Each generation deserves their own 'things.' These are just some of mine, from my childhood era. And of course with someone passing as important to the family as my mom, nostalgia is bound to creep in. That's okay too. I welcome it from time to time, as my regular visitors know. :)
If you have any childhood memories to share, please drop 'em below. Memory Lane is a nice place to go every now and again.