Call Me Old-Fashioned. Please.

I have been getting that a lot lately. My sister, who is seven years younger than I am and has a six-year old, a nine-year old and an eleven-year old, tells me that family life has changed. The kids at school indulge me with snickers when I realize (belatedly) that they are texting one another for answers. And then, there is the common knowledge that is no longer common.

The other day in school, one of the girls was taking a U.S. History test, and she confused Black Friday, which started the Great Depression, with Good Friday. She wanted to know what Good Friday was, and when I told her, she wanted to know why we would call the day on which someone died a gruesome death by crucifixion a good one. Good question. I told her I thought maybe it was because Christians believe that Jesus’s death saved us from hell. That was a good thing, she thought. Thank goodness, I found at least one website that agreed with me.

Then there was the crossword puzzle the senior English teacher gave over A Christmas Carol. I had an errand to run during the time “my” kids were doing the puzzle, and when I re-entered the classroom, I was besieged by kids who wanted to know what the whole thing was about.

“What?” I said. “Everybody’s heard of A CHRISTMAS CAROL!”

Evidently not.

I have seen kids this year who have no idea what the Lord’s Prayer is. Or the Tower of Babel. Or, for that matter, what the difference is between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

I think that’s just wrong.

In my experience, most kids want to learn if you will just teach them. I don’t think all learning can be confined to school, and I think we have lost the art of discerning the “teachable” moments.

It’s not that I’m against the advantages that modern civilization has brought us. My mom never did get to enjoy a dishwasher. My husband and I can both remember when our moms washed clothes with a wringer washer and hung them outside in all sorts of weather. We like our cell phones and our air conditioners.

But not everything old should be thrown out in favor of the new. I think our kids need to know the common things that tie our culture together, our “lore” if you want to call it that.

Maybe that’s one of the better things about being a grandma. People assume (sometimes wrongly) that with age comes wisdom. So the kids are more likely to listen to “us older people” tell them stories about the way things were. And if we don’t…who will? For that reason, at school I recite, “I before E, except after C or when sounding like A as in neighbor or weigh.” I recite it frequently. It still works. And I sing the old songs and tell the old stories to my grandsons. So they’ll know where they came from.

Sure, some things are going to get lost along the way. That’s the way of the world, really. But maybe if we keep passing down our lore, it will draw our children together instead of apart. And if they realize that their parents had some…any…experiences in common, maybe they will dwell more peaceably with each other.

So when I see my grandsons on Saturday, I will read them FROSTY THE SNOWMAN and the story of Rudolph. I bought them a recording of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I will sing “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night” because I sang those songs to their dad and my parents sang those songs to me. And in some way, their knowing those songs and stories will tie them to some other kids, which I think is a good thing.

And I will tell whoever asks me about the Christmas story.  Because, you know what?  For a long time, it DID tie us together.

So. If that makes me old-fashioned, so be it.

Right now I am thankful for every gray hair on my head.


1 Response to “Call Me Old-Fashioned. Please.”

  1. 1 writeathome December 18, 2006 at 1:01 am

    Great post, Becky. I want to be labeled old fashioned too if it means sharing the Christmas story with those who haven’t heard and many of the stories that were once so common.

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December 2006
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