Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sweet, Simple Things of Life

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

As a little girl I loved the TV series, Little House on the Prairie.

I remember Mom calling us kids in from outside (where we were playing for hours) to have our baths and settle down to watch the show.
Each week my sister and I waited for the opening theme song to begin, waited for the moment (my sister's favorite) when the girls are running down the hill in the meadow and Carrie falls down. 

Each week we watched and absorbed wholesome family values;  saw the tenderness in which Charles treated Caroline and his integrity in the workplace, saw Caroline keep her composure with Mrs. Oleson and her voice low and sweet no matter the stress she felt, saw the girls learn the lessons of honesty, sharing and service.  
For my sister and I, the worst insult was to be compared to Nellie Oleson! 

I still love to watch it.  Filled with simple, homey lessons on life; Little House and later, the writings of Laura Ingalls, helped to shape who I am today.
There are no substitutes for real family, real living.
So much of the modern world is nothing but image and gadgets.  So many items to save time- and yet we spend that extra time immersed in more gadgetry.   

I remember washing dishes with my brother and sister by hand- something we disliked immensely.
And yet, by working together regularly, we had a lot of time to talk, to laugh and yes, to fight.
Somehow kids taking turns loading the dishwasher just isn't the same.

I find that much of the time it's difficult for me to find a balance between modern life and my vision of a wholesome family life.  So many distractions, so many mixed messages aimed at men and women and children.
 Most, I feel, teach that we don't have enough or what we have is not good enough.  
Most of the messages are of a selfish nature.

I am so very thankful that I had a mother who thought for herself.  Carefully she p0ndered ideas and chose good for her family.  It did not matter what others around her were doing- she made wise,  wholesome decisions that she knew were right.
What a wonderful example for a young daughter to witness.

In honor of another great lady, here are some Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes that I love:

"As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good. "

"Oh no, I never do much ironing, except the outside clothes. We must not iron out the fresh air and sunshine, you know. It is much more healthful not to, the doctors say.” Seriously, there is something very refreshing about sheets and pillow slips just fresh from the line, after being washed and dried in the sun and air. Just try them that way and see if your sleep is not sweeter. "

"Vices are simply overworked virtues, anyway. Economy and frugality are to be commended but follow them on in an increasing ratio and what do we find at the other end? A miser! If we overdo the using of spare moments we may find an invalid at the end, while perhaps if we allowed ourselves more idle time we would conserve our nervous strength and health to more than the value the work we could accomplish by emulating at all times the little busy bee.

I once knew a woman, not very strong, who to the wonder of her friends went through a time of extraordinary hard work without any ill effects.

I asked her for her secret and she told me that she was able to keep her health, under the strain, because she took 20 minutes, of each day in which to absolutely relax both mind and body. She did not even “set and think.” She lay at full length, every muscle and nerve relaxed and her mind as quiet as her body. This always relieved the strain and renewed her strength."

"It is a good idea sometimes to think of the importance and dignity of our every-day duties. It keeps them from being so tiresome; besides, others are apt take us at our own valuation. "

And another sweet tidbit for you.  I've long worn aprons- ever since I was given a vintage apron in 1991.  I love them!   Here is a list of the practicalities of this wonderful garment:

Grandma's Apron
(Author Unknown)
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears…
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

And another reminder from Laura:

"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and
have courage when things go wrong." 

 Content copyright © 2010 by Jessa at Graceful Landing


  1. It was good to be reminded. I have been torn because I want that simple life. My mother provided it for us, when I was growing up, but I worry, too, because of homeschooling, that they need to be out there getting socialized. Usually, I just feel kind of drained and grouchy and too tired to do what needs to be done, because we are running around. I think it is necessary, though, because my oldest now has a best friend and I know that is important, too. How do I find the balance?

  2. Honestly, I think balance takes long-term vision. If you keep your goals in focus, prioritizing the big ones, you'll be fine. I try not to 'grade' myself day by day or week by week. However, if I see that months have passed and I've gotten way off track, I re-evaluate. I always remind myself that if I keep doing what I'm doing, I'll get the same results.
    I think if I continue to do my best filling my home and children (as best I can in this world) with goodness, when they are old, they will not depart from it. : )


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