Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful for the little things

The couple on the right are my paternal grandparents, Laurel and John Hanson. The lady on the left is Ada Gaskell, one of their cousins.

It was taken in 1921 and they were ice skating on the Mississippi River near Burlington, Iowa. My aunt just shared the picture with me. She commented that if they fell down, at least the women had plenty of padding with the long skirts and long coats. Guess my grandpa was just out of luck if he fell. Not much padding there.

I'm no expert on the history of textiles but in 1921, I'm guessing they had cotton clothing and wool clothing and short of things made from fur or leather, that was about it. Maybe there was silk for women's underthings but kind of doubting my pre-Depression era ancestors could afford it.

No Polartec fleece. No moisture-wicking base layers. No Thinsulate insulation. No Smartwool socks. No Gore-tex waterproof membranes or jackets with Windwall or Windbloc. No synthetic blends. No flannel sheets from LL Bean. No fleece blankets to curl up with in their La-Z-Boy recliners to watch TV. Um, no TV.

I'm very thankful I was born in the 1960s and get to enjoy all the wonderful fabrics we have today that allow us to be outdoors in cold, wet weather without being totally miserable. If' I'd been a child in the 1920s, I probably would have frozen to death.

If I'd grown to adulthood, I would have been a very bitter woman who had to hand wash all her limited clothing. My grandparents didn't have electric lights in their rural Iowa home until after World War II, let alone an electric washing machine. They farmed with horses, pumped water from a well, milked cows by hand, separated cream, churned butter, grew a huge garden and preserved food for the winter by drying, curing and canning.

If my grandparents were alive today, they would be amazed at the array of conveniences that are so easy to take for granted in today's world. So on the day before Thanksgiving, I am extremely thankful for the "little" things we might not think twice about - warm clothing, electricity, hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, a furnace and the local grocery store. I love my microwave, self-cleaning oven, washer and dryer, dog-fur-sucking Dyson vacuum, iMac and iPhone.

And I am thankful for the Farmer, Jamie and Phoenix and everything we've laughed about, cried over, endured, explored, learned from, succeeded at and swore we'd never do again in the last year.

Have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving, everyone!

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