“Nostalgia?”

I have started to blog again after a week off and I realize I want to write quite a bit about the past. But I want to make a distinction between remembering and nostalgia. Nostalgia connotes a longing for the past, an often idealized past. Remembering, on the contrary, takes account of the whole spectrum of experience, both good and bad. Even when many of the memories I share in my blog are joyous or humorous ones, I have no desire to go back to that time. I harbor no illusion that the past was any less complicated or complex than the present.

I love this portrait of my great-grandmother Florence Hiltman Carpenter and the first six of her children, including my grandfather on the right in the back row. While Florence has managed a half smile, the baby is complaining, two of the siblings are grumpy and the others are beyond bored. Despite her probable desire to have this formal studio picture show her growing family in all their fancy clothes pleased to be photographed, the picture instead reflects the reality of life in a busy household.

So as I begin to share a new series which am calling “Fun and Games,” I invite my readers to join either in remembering or learning how it was many years ago. We did have many ways of being entertained before television or electronics and I love thinking about them. But we had polio, diphtheria, small pox, measles, chicken pox, and scarlet fever too. We were worried about nuclear war, watched many of our war veteran fathers drink themselves stupid, saw many of our mothers discouraged by the demands of large families, and have trouble knowing why anyone would long for that time to return. There’s no nostalgia on my end.

33 thoughts on ““Nostalgia?”

  1. As you know.my blog post nostalia is frequent, and quite obviously affectionate. I don’t want to go back to those times necessarily, but at least for me they were less stressful, and undeniably simpler. That doesn’t make them better, it just makes me aware that the present isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see you back and feeling well enough to write.

    You make a good point, Elizabeth. I write a lot about growing up in simpler times. It does give me a nostalgic feeling, but I was a child and memory is kind and selective. Maybe that is to protect us somewhat. I look forward to your new series.

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  3. Very good point, Elizabeth…and memory can be selective, distorted, particular to each persons point of view. I remember being astonished when reminiscing about a shared event with my mother, how divergent our memories were…of the SAME event…It might have been two different events!

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  4. One of the cries of Brexiteers was “We want our country back”. Quite which country and at what stage I have no idea. There is also the nostalgic dream of “The good old days”. Again, no-one can specify quite what they mean. I am quite happy to age disgracefully and, although I would like my joints to be more supple, and various age related changes to disappear, I would not wish to go back (even with hindsight).

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  5. It’s my regrets and the painful or embarrassing memories that have been more persistent than the good ones. I do seem to be getting more positive recall though now the grandchildren have grown a bit and I remember (in big-scene flashbacks) their parents at that age.
    Although this may again become less positive when they reach their teen years.

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  6. Your great-grandmother must have had a hard life bringing up all those children with no labour-saving devices and probably no satisfying career either other than being a wife and mother. Women have a better time of it now. I would have hated to have lived in those times, but hey, it was normal for your great-grandmother as virtually every other woman at that time was in the same boat.

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  7. Your post was thought provoking and fun to read. Nostalgia also comes from hearing family stories told over and over, which makes us miss the relative who told us the stories. I do not want to return to those days. I’ll stick to the memories.

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  8. All times have their own set of problems and anxieties. We have washing machines [thank goodness], fast and instant food and other modern conveniences. We also have very long working hours and high-stress jobs plus global warming and over-population. There are always problems so we have to make the best of the good times.

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  9. I agree that the word ‘nostalgia’ has negative connotations and is very different from remembering and retelling things from the past. Nearly all of my ‘Yorkshire Memoir’ is about the past, but without weeping or hankering after it. I like the photograph but don’t the children look a bit bored?

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  10. I miss the big Christmas Day family get-togethers we had when I was a kid; but yes I grew up worried stiff about the Cold War/the threat of nuclear war. I now miss my kids being young; but on the other hand they now need a little less looking after (at least, they don’t need looking after all the time) and they are turning into quite decent human beings, who I am proud of.

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