I love tradition. I love heirlooms. I love generational treasures - be they material items, or stories passed down. So many stories, trinkets, recipes, have been known to make me feel a strong connection to the generations before me. I always have a sense of wanting to go "backwards" in time, and re-live parts of history (taking the most modern of conveniences with me; my dishwasher and indoor plumbing ranking right on top of the list). Aside from having to have a latte more often than not, I have sometimes felt I was born in the wrong era. Life is too fast-paced for this country bumpkin. So often I feel we, as a society, take for granted what we have at our fingertips, and we forget to take the time to make special memories, to share favorite past-times, and to keep the practices of our ancestors.
If you've known me for more than ten minutes, you know I knit. I don't only knit because it's an addictive hobby and one of the most fun and fulfilling ways a person can spend their time. Although those are definite reasons of mine, they're not THEE reason. When I was eight years old, my grandmother Pearlaine, sat me on the sofa and taught me how to knit. She started me on making a dishcloth. I only ever knit when we were together those too few times over the years, and most of it was spent correcting mistakes rather than making much progress. It took me eight years to finish the dishcloth I started, but I finished. I was the only grandchild who did. I kind of put it away for several years after that, but since the age of about 23 or 24, I have knit (somewhat obsessively) ever since. It's something people used to do all the time. Men and women. They knit to provide for their families - clothes, gifts, socks, blankets. Not just super cool scarves (that you can purchase from me to benefit the March of Dimes - message me!) for the sake of looking trendy.
These same people who knit as a means of providing for their families also canned, baked their own bread, slaughtered their own chickens, grew their own gardens, ground their own flour, milked their own cows, dried their own spices, and darned their own socks. Yet today, you and I hit up the latest sales at Kohl's, grab a frozen dinner to pop in the microwave from our local grocery store, and swing by Target to buy a 45-pack of multi-colored socks to get us through the next few months.
I've been thinking a lot recently on what I want to pass down to Haley. I want her to know how to bake goodies from scratch. I want her to know how to make my awesomely delicious fudge. I want her to learn to sew. I desperately want her to learn (and enjoy) to knit. I might even learn how to can so I can teach her how to do it one day. I don't want to solely depend on our modern conveniences and technologies. I want to be able to hold on to the customs and traditions of those before me as well. My grandmother wasn't just teaching me a hobby. She was teaching me a skill. We have the luxuries of modern convenience before us, but there are valuable lessons to be learned and wonderful experiences to be had in doing some things the old-fashioned way. I will forever remember Grandma peering through her glasses as they sat perched upon her tiny nose, pointing to my dropped stitch and saying, "Now looky here. You have to go back and fix this. Remember how I showed you?"
If you've made any resolutions in the new year, and especially if you haven't, I want to challenge you. Take some time to find a new hobby - or try something from "the olden days" even just once. Bake yourself a loaf of bread. Make your own yogurt. Plant a garden and savor it's harvest. Learn how to knit. Sit down in the morning with a cup of strong coffee and a newspaper while you watch the sun rise from the comfort of your wooden rocking chair. Sit with an elder and marvel in the history of their lives as they share their stories with you.
Rather than worrying about remembering deadlines at work, or when the last time you changed the filter in your furnace was, spend some time remembering the toils and labors of those generations gone by, and appreciate the hard work, craft, and skill they wanted to pass on to all of us.
"Now looky here." It will be a look well worth taking.