This is Pom Redfield. I don't know the year the photo was taken. I doubt it is as old as the letter I am getting ready to quote. There she is though. I see a lot when I look in her eyes.
For lack of a word more accurate than 'luck' I happen to have a great many objects from mother's side of the family. Things no-one else has seen and didn't know existed ... except me!
This is a letter she began on June 27, 1902. She begins it "Dear Papa" and tells him "I am going to write you anyway if you did just go yesterday." A sentence later she mentions how "To-morrow I am thirteen. The boys says I am going to get a lot of whippings and I believe it." She then stops the letter because she has to go for dinner.
She picks the letter back up on June 29, 1902, the day after her thirteenth birthday. In the photo below is what she writes about her birthday.
"Last night we had a very nice time. We had Myrtle and a little friend of hers, Rachel Green, Alice, Harold, Ethel, Frank, Louise, and our family to have the fun.
We were to to have molasses taffy to pull and so while Jeanette was cooking it we played games. There was a dozen of us to pull it and so we had lots of fun. I wish you could have been here.
I got a bicycle and fifty cents from you (*side note - I think she said 'you', there is a hole in the letter there and it makes it hard to know for certain*), a box of bonbons from the boys, (Bones and Jame), a bag of marsh-mallow cookies from Harold; and a plate of elegant fudges that Ethel and Alice gave me. Besides lots of whippings."
So -- why does this strike me so and what is the lesson? Ok, 1) let's all be clear - the whippings were in good fun. I know you remember getting them + one to grow on as y'all grew.
Since that's not it, what is it?
It's the general simplicity of the time. It's the gifts of food and the fun of pulling taffy. It's "we played games" and knowing they were likely outside playing them, making them up as they went. It's how much she honestly seemed to enjoy it. And she was turning 13!! THIRTEEN!! No cellphones. No designer clothes (hey, they had those back then).
These days if you go to a party, any party, you're likely to spend $20 at the very bare minimum on a gift. And that price is more accurate if you're lucky.
Things cost more than they did over a hundred years ago, that's obvious. Things cost more than they did five or ten years ago. But there is a bigger price paid.
You wind up paying a fair chunk of change for a gift. SOMETHING to give the person. Not something terribly special, but something that you might think they'd like or it might make you think of them. Just really a gift because it is __fill in the occasion__ and you have to get them a gift. A lot of times there is the added pressure of making sure that all the other people attending said occasion will be equally as wow-ed by your gift and envious that you found THAT to give to the honored person.
And they usually like it. But eventually it becomes clutter. More stuff. More toys that need batteries, which have to constantly be bought. More things you stub your toe on. More interesting items you set aside somewhere with a plan for it whenever that infamous "one day" comes along.
Sadly, if you asked me what I got for my birthday or Christmas I'd be hard pressed to tell you. And I'm not boasting because I got so much stuff. Comparatively speaking (in the Western/American society I live in) I didn't. But, in the end, most of it was likely stuff.
My Lesson From Pom & her Friends (oooh .. peer pressure!):
*Less is more.
*If you're going to get a gift, think about the person truly. Sometimes there are those truly special things and that's ok.
*Make them something.
*Make them food that, hopefully, you can all enjoy sharing.
*Make them a card, play-dough (shout out to my friend Cat who made Shannon play-dough one year for his birthday. It was AWESOME!)
*Spend time with them on their special day. Have fun. Laugh.
*Laugh!! -- That was worth two lines.
*Create memories ~ they'll enhance your brain & your heart!
This is my new way of looking at occasions & gift giving. If you're attending something in our honor, please follow these lessons. If you have to spend something, try to keep it under $10.
Our economy is in bad shape. Our environment is in worse shape. We all, likely, already have too much stuff.
I hereby give us all permission to, from this moment on, be free of stuff. Follow Pom's lessons (and her friends' & family members'!) and embrace the simplicity and honesty of it all.
What do you think?