learning from older generations

My grandmother's 90th birthday recently passed, and we managed to gather a good portion of the family for a birthday party. It's been a few years since I made the hour-plus drive up to her house in the country, and with the brisk winter weather this weekend, it made for a nice start to the holiday season. The air felt like it shifted to winter mode and everything just looked a bit more wintry than it did just a few days before. It was great seeing aunts, uncles and cousins whom I haven't visited with in a long time. But what hung with me after leaving was the feeling of my grandmother's house itself. My mother grew up in that house and I grew up visiting that house. And I loved the feeling of visiting again and seeing how little has changed. The same furniture is in the same place, the same artwork and family photos hang on the walls, and the house just seems to be a constant in a changing world. We all grow up, but the house stays the same welcoming home it always was. 

My grandmother is not an extravagant lady, and doesn't need all new furnishings every few years. Her car from 1984 still sits in the driveway. Her furniture is beautifully vintage, without the irony. She isn't necessarily green by choice, rather she is green by virtue. She's from a generation who didn't have as much and knew how to live with what she did have, and because of that, she's more eco-friendly than many modern households. If things work, there's no need for her to replace them. Some might view it as old, but I view it as sensible. And on top of that, I view it as comforting. I've grown up, but the house is still the same as I remember when I was four years old. 

My grandmother collected buttons over the years and kept them in a mason jar. I always loved poring through the collection when I would visit, and one year my grandmother let me take the entire jar home. I keep it on display in my apartment as a family keepsake; but the buttons can also serve as a reminder of their previous lives as spares for clothing. I plan on keeping that jar of buttons in the family for a few more generations as well.

Visiting this weekend also made me appreciate the beauty of the drive. Those winding country highways are so much more scenic than taking the interstate, and the wintry day provided for beautiful skies and natural settings. I am by no means a country girl, but sometimes I appreciate getting out of the city for a little while and making a drive like that, passing through tiny towns and seeing farms on either side of the road. 

An eco-friendly lifestyle was the norm for my grandmother, and visiting her reminds me of that, plus it's an inspiration to live more like that and be less materialistic.

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