Saturday, November 14, 2009

14 November 1955 “More Vintage Thanksgiving and the Relative Merits of ‘Better’”

This movie is worth the twelve minutes to watch it. I cannot tell if it is made just before we are in WWII or immediately after we are out, but you can tell that part of the sentiment is affected by the reaction to the Fascism of the war torn world.

There are many good things about this short. For one, it shows the blue collar middle class, not always shown in such films. It looks as if Dad is a mechanic. Or, perhaps he worked in an auto factory (something our American Car companies seemed to think more important to move out of our own country. Again, I think it funny that there is a BMW plant now in our country, but most American companies still outsource. Especially after they were bailed out!)

I like that simple things are appreciated such as free library books, safe warm baths for baby, a private home-though it is mortgaged and needs ‘a lick of paint’.

When the neighbor drops by for flour, the mother is ‘allowed’ to talk about whatever she likes, i.e. they are not in fear of their opinions of politics and economy as was the case in Europe before and during the war.

I feel, again, that this shows a time in our country or maybe the world where we were perched on a great place to realize what technology had done for us and could do and yet to still be human. To love and understand our own needs and not feel we NEED more than we can afford. To appreciate that what IS available for us in our various monetary brackets/class could be good enough for happiness and family. The need to want more and more seems not as apparent.

This got me thinking about a comment someone made the other day about the term ‘Better’ being relative. I really have to agree. Certainly, today we have more advances in medicine and even more labor saving devices. There is plenty of food to go around and cheap clothing to be had by all. Yet, there are things missing in today’s ‘better’. I think common courtesy, kindness, community, neighborliness, self-education, fortitude, self-ability, a sense of place, contentment with simplicity.

Somehow we have become a nation reaching for some brass ring that is always dangled and can only be had by spending more than we have. Yet, we don’t look down and see we are merely on a conveyor belt of consumerism or that sometimes we are trampling on others to get that brass ring. That cheap shirt is easy to get, but don’t look to close at those in China and India making it for us. Nor, avert your eyes to the many small business that can’t ever compete. Keep your blinders on to your own neighborhoods and downtowns, as they fall to ruin and the great concrete chain stores mar up and ugly the American landscape. Pine for better things! And, when you wish for the old days, just pretend they are gone forever because it is easier to just go along with things the way they are!

Now, I am not saying ‘The good ole days were better’ because that is not entirely true. And it only pining for the old days or thinking we can recreate them because we buy things and put them on shelves is not the answer either. The actual good things, those ‘BETTER” times were about caring for your neighbor and your neighborhood, your family and your diet and your home and your bank account. The things we pine for from the past CAN be brought back, I know they can. Certainly, it is hard to fight nation-wide against endless reality shows that give fame to spoiled idiots who seem to think the louder you are and the more you are concerned about ME the better you are. We can help to draw these role models away from the young, but we really do need to start at home.

Sometimes just a simple thing can make a difference. Buy something from a local business, farm, store. Sure, you might not like or have a vintage dress, but you have nice clothes, put those on and make yourself 'Thanksgiving day’ pretty and be surprised by the smiles and help you get from strangers and store clerks. Make two of your pizza in front of the TV days a sit down as a family at a table day and see you suddenly have conversation instead of ‘comments on TV shows’.

I am more determined everyday, as the year closes, to try and see how much I feel I can really make 1955 be about today! To try and consciously make decisions that can at least change my sphere of the world into those qualities that I love and admire from the good ole’ days. So, that my Better can be both the equality and technology of today, but also the love, respect, and human quality of Better from those days. There is no reason that modern life can coincide with those attitudes and lifestyle changes of the past. One is not the opposite of the other. Only, as is true with most things worth doing, it will be harder than just ‘going with the flow’. But, at the end of the day and the end of my days, I want to think I lived the best I could for myself and others and the world, not just coasted along easy and uncaring. Anyone else up for the ride?

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