A long time ago, on a very cold, very blustery winter day, we sat inside our Minnesota home in front of a blazing fireplace. We were watching television to pass the time on an uneventful Saturday afternoon. The weatherman had predicted we would receive up to a foot of snow that day and with how things were looking outside, it appeared he made an accurate forecast. We would occasionally glance out our large family room window and watch the wind create larger and larger drifts of snow by blowing and swirling it every which way. I found myself mesmerized by the sheer force of nature as it played outside while we sat snug inside our cozy interior. If nothing else seemed positive about this snowfall, it was certainly beautiful to watch the dramatically dancing tree limbs that resulted from the frosty white movement of snow and wind.
I thought about how fortunate we were to be able to live in a warm and solidly built house with food stocked cupboards and freezers. “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” as the old song goes. I didn’t mind the storm at all. In fact, the snow outside made the fire all the more enticing in our fireplace with its bright roaring flames and pulsing heat. I turned my attention back to the television and we were viewing a cooking show which had followed on the heels of “This old house”, a program about home maintenance and repair. Al just woke from a nap and he and I watched as the television cook whipped up a hearty midwestern meal. We were mesmerized with the show in a day and age where all these domestic type shows were in their infant stage of television, not realizing how these tyoes of shows would take over the air waves by sheer popularity with its viewing audience.
As we watched the chef pull out a steaming pan of beautifully glazed barbecued ribs in all its mouth watering, juicy perfection, I turned to Al and asked, “Why do you suppose these shows are so appealing to us? I mean, LOOK at us! Here we are, just spellbound by cooking and baking and hammers and saws….WHY ?” He looked at me for a bit and then said “Well, I think everyone is looking for Mother and Father!” As I looked back at him, my mind wrapped itself around that image. This way of seeing things simplistically is what I love about him. He is so uncomplicated in his thinking and he is usually right in his simple analysis. We are looking for our Mother and Father because our inner child constantly seeks our childhood.
I do believe that the more technology takes over our society, the less we need to “do” for one another. The human element of caring for one another is slowly disappearing because it is so much work. We would rather have the “quick” way of doing things. At one time the family hearth was our social core as well as our survival center. Most of our thoughts were created by a family belief system which everyone in the family embraced. Life was simpler because there were rules and patterns to living that most people went along with. We went along with these thoughts on life because in most cases the children honored and respected and loved their elders. We also liked the security one feels within a structured existence. We passed down our belief system to our children and childrens children. Things changed with modernization, but the thing that remained constant was the family and the hiearchy in the family.
Technology and modernization has separated familys by allowing the younger generation to see what lies beyond our family home. Offers of high paying jobs has lured the younger generation far and wide. Whole intergenerational families aound the Sunday dinner table are a thing of the past for most of us. So many of us spend our lives in search of the treasures in life, not realizing that the real treasure really is just like what Dorothy said in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” (“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”). It is in our power to choose this, but we often don’t. We go off in the world looking for a better life. We want more and often find less because in the end, what actually makes any of us truly happy is to love and be loved and to be surrounded by a supportive family who know the “authentic” side that is you and want you in their life. .
Now as I think back to that cold winter day when we sat in front of the fireplace watching some television version of “Mom” making a meal, I understand why our hearts were wistfully thinking of her. The child within us wanted to be right there in the warmth and aroma of that kitchen.
I did a lot of cooking and baking when my children were growing up but not nearly as much as my Mother did because our American society was already on the go, grabbing a quick fast food meal on the way to one of the childrens events, or grabbing hastily made food to eat on the way. My children cook even less because their pace has even picked up more. They are gone from very early in the morning until 8 or 9 0’clock at night. There is not enough time for a sit down at the table for meals, nor time for calling extended family members. It turns out that the most valuable commodity in any family is TIME because so often, their time is all filled up with activities and schedules. Though our homes have grown larger in America, though they have become more expensive and more elaborate than ever before, no one is home long enough to really enjoy it.
These days, when I make a homemade farm style meal, my adult children are always very happy, which pleases me very much. This excitement is interesting to me because when I was a young child, the culinary thrill came to us by eating in a restaurant of which there were very few and we rarely went out to dinner. It was a rare event to eat outside the home. These days the anticipation comes when we invite someone into our home to eat around the table. Very few want to be bothered with the time it takes to prepare a meal or to clean up afterward, so when you invite someone to join you in your home for a meal prepared by you, it is something they look forward to. The times we have at our home where we are breaking bread together will someday be some of our family and friends fondest memories of their time with us.
Al was right. We ARE all looking for Mother in one form or another because to our childs heart, it means nourishment, nurturing, attention and unconditional love. In a world where some people are dying of lonliness, because of the pursuit of happiness, or what they think will make them happy, we need to consider returning to the hearth. We need to return to our parents, our Grandparents, our Aunts and Uncles, who make up our little network village which creates a natural support system for us. Growing up, I was one of the lucky ones because I wasn’t looking for Mother. I didn’t have to, because she was always right there!