The Good Old Days

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In my office, I have some Life, Post and Look magazines from the 1950’s and they get me a little nostalgic and thinking about the good old days. The best of times were during the holidays.

Thanksgiving was a big deal when I was a kid. For us, it was always a big turkey dinner at our ranch in Alexander Valley. Relatives gathered. We ate and ate, and then ate some more. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy…yum. yum, yum!

In our house you couldn’t mention Christmas until after the Thanksgiving meal. So, you know us kids would yell out “Christmas” as we swallowed our last bite. Then came Christmas.

I vividly recall the day and weekend immediately after Thanksgiving as something really big and special, when I was a kid. That was the official start of the Christmas season. That’s when you drove into the big city (Santa Rosa), to the big department stores (Sears, Montgomery Wards) downtown (no malls back then), and saw Santa Claus, and shopped, and, in my case, got a bag of popcorn from the little candy and counter inside of Sears.

The death of the downtown department store as mecca has destroyed a lot of ‘specialness.’ Now the holiday shopping experience surrounds you and bombards you.

Worse, now Christmas season starts before Halloween. I’m sick of it before Thanksgiving even gets here. I don’t think we’ve done the kids, ourselves or even retail commerce any favors by stretching the season into a calendar quarter.

But the bigger point is how much of “the special” has been taken away, spoiled, diminished and diluted. There’s real opportunity here for us parents to find a way to give our children a truly special event, something to look forward to with anticipation, to experience with awe and wonder and fun.

I may just be getting old, but I think there is more to it than just starting the holiday seasons earlier. I recall shopping for a special little something for each of my family members. The stores were crowded, but they were clean and orderly, the sales clerks were attentive and caring, the music was soft and cheerful. The store windows were all beautifully decorated. Families were shopping together. Then, it all seemed normal. Now, it would seem magical.

It may be my Leave It To Beaver upbringing, but I do miss the good old days. Having neighbors that talked to each other and kids that showed respect to their elders—are from days gone by. For me, I try to hang on to these ideals and propagate them where I can. In my own home, at the very least. I have also found a remnant of this lifestyle in church. It depends on where you go, of course.

That being said, I’m launching into this holiday season by taking my son Joseph out for a special father-son outing. We are going to Colorado together in early November to attend a Christian Conference. We’ll be hearing, talking about and sharing some good old fashion family values. We will, of course, be visiting my two daughters, Luisa and Shannon, while we are out there. I want this to be another one of those memories that Joseph looks back on someday and says, “Those were the good old days!”

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season!