📝 Generations

For a portion of the semester with one of my grade 12 classes, we focus on how values and beliefs influence our decisions. We examine how this plays out for characters, relationships, and societies in literature, as well as evaluate our own beliefs and decisions. We also compare the differing values of various generations and the choices that have resulted. The Internet is full of data, much of it conflicting, about the core values of Traditionalists vs Boomers, Millennials vs Gen X or Y or Z, or whatever title is being attached to the most recent demographic; however, the data is less important to me than the conversations and questions that students have as they explore the generational profiles. One surprising thing always comes up: students are harshest in their judgement of the values and beliefs of their own generation. They inevitably look to their parents and grandparents as having better work ethics, morals, and empathy. They worry for their generation.

Unlike my students who are an emerging generation, I am an “inbetweener.” My parents are aging, my children are adults; I’m in between them both. This is hardly a new phenomenon; for all of human history, our roles and responsibilities change as we move through the generational cycles. My parents require more physical care than they did several years ago; my children require less physical care, but still need parental support.

I’ve taken some of my thoughts about generations and turned them into the next issue of Jots & Doodles. The art “doodles” in this issue is gleaned from some of my older work that has been tucked away in sketch books and journals but seemed to fit with this theme.

There are only two “jot” pieces this time because one of them took up more space than most “jots.” For the first one, I was thinking about generational cycles and since I was also doing laundry that day, the metaphor sort of stuck — and works to the degree that metaphors are both appropriate and limited. Maybe it will get us all thinking about the core value of love and how it can affect our ability to both give and receive from one another.

The second piece is about fences, which on first glance has nothing to do with generations. I did the pen & ink drawing years ago simply because I was drawn to the contrast between the old fence and the new one. I actually titled it, “Generations” at the time. My thinking about the two fences has evolved and shifted over time, but when I actually sat down to write about them it took me a while to understand what the key focus needed to be. Was it about aging and the need for the next generation to fill the gap? Was it about the ultimate failure of one generation and the success of the “new and better” ideas of the next? I finally realized that aging and failure and success will come for every generation even if our perspectives and purposes may differ in their focus. What will determine our impact on each other, our communities, and our world, is how our values and decisions stand the test of time. Legacies are the product of time.

You can find Issue 6 of Jots and Doodles here or on the Jots & Doodles page listed in the menu. As always, it is free to download, print, and share. Your feedback and thoughts on this topic are also welcome!

☕️ Home Invasion

A Saturday Caesura

Our house was invaded last week. Strangers arrived and made themselves at home, and while I was (am) happy to have them, their presence left me feeling not at home in my home. It’s interesting how our lived-in spaces become such an extension of ourselves that changes niggle and unsettle us.

When I say that the ‘invaders’ are an antique dining room set, a multi-place setting of Royal Albert china (Old Country Roses, complete with all the accessory serving dishes, a bell, and shoe-shaped toothpick holder), crystal, stemware, silver, and table linens (actual linen linens), I know that eyes will roll — first world problems, get a life already and all that.

And I understand; this dis-ease in my own home, a home that is generous, warm, secure, and not lacking in any device designed for comfort and ease (except a dishwasher), is not even close to real discomfort. I know this.

The issue is that I am not a china-crystal-silver kind of person. I never have been. My mother-in-law is, and these new arrivals are hers. They felt right and proper in her home, but here, among my basic white Corelle, Pyrex, and mismatched accessories (not to mention my feathers, pebbles, bird nests and dragonfly wings), they feel ostentatious and decidedly not me.

So I’ve been compelled to adjust to a new home-persona (for lack of a better way to describe it), and in the process I’ve pondered a couple of things.

One of them is how the juxtaposition of china tea sets and old milk cans and bird nests and glass covered-cake-stands is not unlike a family with its eclectic mix of personalities, preferences, and perspectives. Families may share homes for a time, but individuals don’t necessarily experience life the same way. And then we add new members and become members of other families, each person bringing a whole self to sit alongside other whole selves just as flawed, quirky and unique. Feathers and crystal. Pebbles and silver. Sometimes we don’t seem to fit together at all…and yet, we do.

And that leads to the other thing. My mother-in-law loved to create meal experiences for her family. At 92-years old, her kitchen glory days are over, but her presence and legacy lingers in these ‘invaders’ of my home. Just as she preferred the baking pans used by her mother, treasured the porcelain tea cup hand-painted by her Aunt Charlotte, and served meals on this same dining room furniture inherited from her mother-in-law, I can eat a bowl of soup from her-now-our-china knowing that the only real value in all of these objects is the memories and the people they represent.

So while interior designers would have a hard time defining my home decor because it doesn’t fit any recognizable (or popular) category and they would be mortified to see bird nests displayed in crystal fruit nappies, I’ve come to embrace the revised feel of our home because it even more fully represents two things I love: God’s created world in all its intricate beauty and the indescribable gift and legacy of family.

PS If you ever come to visit, I promise to thoroughly wash the fruit nappies before I serve dessert.