Remember the good old days? Urban dictionary defines “the good old days” as a phrase used by old people. “When these words are used in combination it is a signal to young people to get the heck out.” If you have ever been young, you know that urban dictionary is not wrong. After all, remembering the good old days is most definitely a pastime one enjoys the older one gets.
Whether you are in your twenties or fifties, most of us yearn for times we remember that seemed simpler, less complicated, and just, well, better. But were they really? Or does memory over time play tricks on us? Do we look back on the past with rose colored glasses? As I was remembering my growing up years, I realized those years were marked by some crazy stuff. There was corruption in the White House from the Iran-Contra affair to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. It is so sickening, to think how Monica was treated at that time. I did a school project on the devastating impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Let’s not forget that Bosnian and Rwanda Genocide, Desert Storm, HIV/AIDS… just to name a few.
I am sure my parents felt the tension. I am sure the headlines of the time were horrible. But I had no clue. I was just a kid living my best life. I remember the bright summer days, running around without a care in the world, and winters playing in the snow. I know I had bad days like the time someone told on me for opening my eyes during the prayer in Sunday School. (I looked that little tattletale up on Facebook recently and I’m pretty sure she needs to get back in Sunday School.) My coal mining father was laid off several times and my momma took a job at a sewing factory to see us through. Even still, my close-knit family made the good old days what they were. From my parents and brother to my cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They made small moments big. Broke times were still fun. God was bigger than any problems we faced. The days seemed good even if they weren’t.
I have six children, and they range in age from 24 to 6, I think back to the infant/toddler days with nostalgia. But if I’m honest, there were hard times. Like the nights of walking the floors after 2am or the potty training. Yet, I see pictures of their chubby cheeks or hear their sweet voices on video and long to make them little again. Perhaps it is as author Rita Mae Brown said, “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”
I guess the real point is this – When living in a time of crisis, it’s easy to forget that previous generations faced unique challenges as well. We like to say that things were better before. But when was that, exactly? If we go back in time and if we explore every moment that people claimed was a golden age, what we discover is that the golden age is now. We must remember what made the good old days good for us and make sure these become great times for our kids. Each decade has its problems to deal with and overcome. Let’s work so that our children and grandchildren can say these were the good old days. What made the good old days good for you? How can we make sure these are the good old days for our kids?
Previously published in Hampton County Guardian and Bluffton Today