I was thinking recently about how the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:10, “Do not say Why were the old days better than these? For it is not of wisdom that you ask this.” Nostalgia is a big market in America, especially at Christmas time. Memories of the holidays spent in our childhood, of the things we used to play with, the music we love to hear, the old movies that show life in the past. You know, the cards with the horse-drawn sleigh and the little villages covered with just enough snow, and “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.”
The other day I was checking out at a local store and the clerk helping me was listening to the strains of the song about chestnuts roasting over an open fire. “Oh, I just love that song,” she sighed. I thought about it and asked her a question that popped into my head, “Have you ever had a chestnut roasted on an open fire?” She looked at me with a quizzical expression, and admitted she had not even tasted a chestnut. Borrowed nostalgia. I had never tasted one either, and searched grocery stores until I found some. I am not sure how one roasts them. Hmmmm.
Anyway, we all love those good old days, whether they be long ago, or things we have seen in books or movies. They keep history alive, families together, the economy running and bring smiles to our faces a lot. When I, as a grown woman with growing children, had the opportunity to revisit a home I had lived in as a child, I was totally excited, until the new owners let me look inside. It was a nice house, but not my home. I suddenly could not recall nearly as many memories from there. Sometimes the good old days are not as soft as we remember them.
What began me thinking about the sweet innocence of the days gone past, as compared to the times we live in, was the gift of a good-sized box of old Jack and Jill magazines from a local library. They wanted to find them a good home, and I totally volunteered. These adorable, almost antique children’s magazines were hours of fun to look through. They ranged in date from 1939 to 1960…and were full of drawings of the past and cute stories and articles. Charming covers, dear and simple. I was treasuring them. I still do, but when I came upon the two that were devoted to the theme of World War II, with soldiers on the cover and advertisements for buying war bonds to support the war cause, my mood changed. Fathers and sons away from home, in a war that even the little children had to understand on some level. Hard times as well as good times mark the “Good old days.”
Looking back is sweet and necessary, looking forward is made fresher with our memories. I need to look forward with hope at the days that will become good in many ways to me and my grandchildren some day. I have hope, even in hard times, because that is the only direction I can go. God is in the past, in the present and in the future. It is bright because of that. Happy tomorrows.