I’ve always had a penchant for old things, especially old barns and homes. I ponder their history and wonder about former occupants. I am amazed by their endurance. I find their scars and imperfections intriguing. And while new homes are more comfortable and efficient, old ones are sometimes more comforting. No matter what happens within their walls, they’ve witnessed it all before.
Over the years I have gathered a few old things around me and kept them as talismans against our ever changing society. I have my grandmother’s rolling pin and my great-grandmother’s salt shakers. I keep a lovely vase given to me by a friend forty-five years ago. I have one grandfather’s television lamp and the other’s flannel shirt. My son calls these and the other twenty or so items in my collection “useless stuff”, but nothing is useless if it brings you comfort and offers you a sense of enduring security. I understand fully that they are just things, and things can be lost, broken, and stolen. My life would not end if they were all lost to some unforeseen tragedy. But while they are here it is soothing to see them and touch them and know that generations before me have done the same.
I suppose I was thinking of this because my father and I were discussing the people lined up to buy the newest phone. He will soon be eighty-two years old, and although he owns and uses a cell phone for safety and convenience, he does not feel that he has to buy the newest or most impressive one just because it is available. He is a practical old-fashioned man who isn’t easily impressed by all things “new”. I guess we must be related!
I wonder sometimes what will be saved and treasured from our throwaway culture. We seldom keep anything beyond its warranty expiration before replacing it with the latest and greatest. But perhaps something loved and valued will be kept by this generation as a reminder of us.