I often heard my mother discuss the fact that she felt time was going more quickly as she aged. I often thought it couldn’t go quick enough. But then I was young and rarely reflected on the fact that we are not here on a permanent basis. Lately I find myself connecting to many of my mothers’ statements especially the ones around how life seems to whoosh by with each passing year. It seems that I just had Thanksgiving dinner and now it’s here again. How did that happen? And Christmas is just around the corner. Of course it’s not easy to forget either holiday since the media relentlessly feeds us their ads to buy, buy, buy starting in late August. Christmas decorations are already up and we haven’t even cleared the Thanksgiving dinner. Black Friday is closing in on us, but now there’s some stores that will be open at 9Pm Thanksgiving night in case you have an obsessive need to go to a store and leave your guests in the living room. Forget hanging out and reflecting on the day’s gathering. It’s much better to think about what you’ll be going to purchase while you’re chewing on a drumstick. We have turned life into a constant need to access the future without living in the present. This shift in how our culture lives their lives creates a great deal of stress My mother and her generation seemed to savor each holiday without feeling obligated to discuss the one coming. I have talked to many people about this phenomenon and it may be time to reflect on spending more time honoring the moments we’re in rather than anticipating or dreading the ones that are coming. This is not an easy practice in a society that has come to value “doing” rather than “being”. However, perhaps the gift you may want to access this season is reminding yourself throughout the day to just breathe. When you’re stressed out you breathe more rapidly. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling slowly and purposefully allows you to be aware of the present moment. Every moment that we honor with a deep breath allows us to feel more peaceful by helping to quell the inner critics that never stop reminding us of “what’s next”.Try it when you’re at the Thanksgiving dinner table and Aunt Hattie tells you the turkey is dry, or when you’re lying in bed worried about how you’re going to get all your shopping done, or in dozens of stressful situations that pass and soon become part of the tapestry of life. Just breathe!
I have often talked and written about my Italian grandmother Francesca. She was so much a part of my childhood and was the quintessential Nona; flowered house dress, sensible black oxford shoes, and her hair done up in a bun at the back of her head. She always smelled clean and her ways of expressing herself had a calmness that seemed to permeate the atmosphere.
She kept her weight down by eating moderately and by taking a brief stroll every day around the neighborhood. She wore no makeup and rarely spent a lot of time worrying about what she looked like. She existed primarily for her family, making delicious meals and spending time praying for individuals who needed spiritual help. I’m sure there are still a percentage of these types of grandmothers somewhere here in America and abroad, but they are fast becoming a part of the past.
Today’s Nona’s are much more hip looking and involved in all kinds of activities. Many of them also work full-time. I know because I’m one of those working grandmas. I often wonder if my grandmother was better off even though she had to deal with fewer modern conveniences and communicating with family and friends was either an old-fashioned telephone or a letter? I know that she never discussed how stressed she was. Life was pretty simple aside from occasional bouts with dysfunctional family members, which in retrospect I believe brought drama to her life and made her feel perky. She didn’t have to wake up and worry whether her highlights or her haircut was going to work. Hair products were a non issue. A bar of brown soap was used for everything including washing her hair. Olive oil was the conditioner as well as a salad dressing.
No push up bras or thongs. I’m sure she would have laughed at the thought of pushing up her breasts. I can just see her face looking at a thong and exclaiming ”What happened to the rest of the underpants.?” She had no need to buy sexy nightgowns to entice my grandfather. I think her night wear was probably woven with steel thread so that removing it would be a major feat. In fact I would bet she had very little information about sex and perhaps was under the illusion that her children were miracles, since she would have had to shield herself from sinful thoughts. I loved the fact that I never heard her talk about dieting. She seemed to have an innate understanding of what well-being meant and knew that being over-weight was not where it was at. Perhaps our relentless need to do more and be more should be tempered by a little bit of old-fashioned Nona mentality. We just might live longer.