“Less is more” is advice given to and by artists, decorators, and photographers. Looking back on my life and the lives of my parents and grandparents, I’m thinking that it’s sage advice for living.
My house overflows with clothes, trinkets, appliances both minor and major, more dishes than one family could ever use and linens, some of which are never taken out of the cupboard or closet. Wallpaper, carpets, drapes, décor colours can all be changed at a whim.
Perhaps the only thing in abundance that a person can never have too many of, are books. Reading material is on every shelf. I must admit though, even with that, we could borrow from the library more than we do.
We talk about ‘the comforts of home”. Do we mean opulence and extravagance? I don’t think so. I am not anxious to return to outdoor toilets nor horse and buggies but I do believe that I am nearing the time in life that my mother-in-law warned me about when she said, “Material belongings can become a burden”. The trouble is, parting with material things can be almost as difficult as parting with the family pet.
But will dishes, or trinkets really bring joy to my family, especially when I depart from this earth. Will it be the material things that I leave them that will put smiles on their faces or warm feelings in their hearts when they look upon these things? I don’t think so. True, a trinket or a family heirloom may be a much-treasured keepsake but if it doesn’t remind us of pleasant times spent with that person or some bond that you share, why have it?
Spending happy times together, sharing a meal and fellowship, traveling together, facing challenges, even grief together, laughing together, crying together, feeling so comfortable with one another that you know you are welcome any time; that is the kind of memories that our keepsakes hopefully will inspire.
We are all so busy. Why? So many chores can be done with the push of a button. Why don’t we then have more time to spend with one another?
Just yesterday we celebrated Easter at our house with a family meal. There were only four of us, my husband, daughter and her daughter and myself. We enjoyed wonderful conversation not just during the mealtime but afterwards as we put away the leftovers, washed and dried the dishes and put them away. Yes, some dishes went into the dishwasher but slamming its door and turning the dial does not allow for the flow of conversation that exudes as one of us physically washes the dishes, stacks them in the drainer, and the other person does the drying.
Are we all becoming too self-sufficient, seldom having a reason to ask another person for help and so conversation time is minimal. The introduction of the cell phone and the subsequent texting, the use of email and the ability to order anything on-line all contribute to reducing face-to-face contact.
We hear so much about depression now. Anti depressants are reported to be among the highest pharmaceutical sales. Granted there are sorrows and hardships in life that demand such medication. On the other hand, did we ever hear about these drugs being needed to such a degree even as recently as sixty years ago?
From picking bugs off potato plants to dusting every flat surface in our house, I was kept busy as a child with chores as well as piano lessons and practices and my delivering newspapers daily on my bicycle.
As I matured I studied, became a teacher, wife and mother. The principles that I had learned from my parents have stayed with me. I haven’t necessarily agreed with everything they said, but the basic guidance of honesty, helping your community, attending church, valuing learning, focusing on what I can give to life; these are the things that are ingrained. These are traits that I learned mainly from their example rather than from their lecturing.
Sometimes we need to reflect on the changes in lifestyles today and consider whether or not we maybe need to adjust the rudder guiding our lives.
Heather Campbell is the of the following short-story collections:
The Show Must Go On
Dear Hearts and Gentle People
Because You Asked
Sunny Side Up
Heather’s Musings and More
“Heather’s Musings” (Weekly Column for “The Bancroft Times”)
Books available at Joanne’s Gallery, Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch, Ashlie’s Books (Bancroft), Ormsby Gallery, Whitewater Brewery, Wilno Crafts & Gallery, Porterville Diner (Lake St. Peter)and directly from Heather ($15.95 + $4 postage).