Tis the season for giving. The intention of giving is good, but today's execution of giving is not. In a world of more, we also expect more. Thus, needing bigger stockings.
Last week, I went to visit and bring soup to my grandmother. Nathan and I sat down to visit with her for a while. She is 92 years old and grew up near St. Cloud in the great depression. Her memory is amazing and it was so humbling to talk to her and share her stories.
We talked about our homestead/transition activities of gardening, storing, poultry and canning. In hearing us talk about these activities that brought out many stories from her and also more questions from us.
We heard of stories of her father growing potatoes for the family, her killing a gopher with a rock, and pumping water from the well in the winter. They did not have running water any time of year. First silly question, "Grandma, what did you do for baths in the winter? Did you need to boil the water?". She looked confused, so we thought she did not hear us. We repeated and then she said "We didn't bathe in the winter. Sponge baths, maybe".
On to the second silly question. Her mother would keep the fire going in their wood stove to heat their house in the winter and her brothers would walk along the railroad to pick up coal that fell off the trains to add to their fires. I then asked her if she received any coal in her stockings. She gave me a blank look and said "we didn't have any stockings". Well, that made me feel like a spoiled millennial and also grateful yet . I asked if she received any Christmas presents. She said her father wanted to buy them presents one year when they had extra, but her mother said "no, they will just break them anyway". She did say she remembers receiving oranges one year for Christmas.
These stories reminded me that we really expect too much especially during this season. I saw that sign in a coffee shop and was rather disappointed that we "need" bigger stockings to be filled with more things.
Stories show the strength of ones that came before us, that we can survive with less, much less. They also humble us and give perspective in our life. Provide encouragement towards the goals of transition. Transition towards less. As I continue to transition towards a simpler life, I find more meaning in my grandmothers stories. More connections to my family, community, fauna and flora.
We should be thankful for stockings. This is a season for thanks, community, and celebration.