So I spent part of my weekend at the book store and the craft store, and as I checked out with my stack of books and magazines at both places, I realised something; exactly how much I love vintage and old fashioned skills, styles, and attitudes.
When I was growing up, my parents did things that today are considered “old fashioned” or “folksy”, but for me it just seemed natural. My parents bought the house I grew up in when I was 3 (in 1978), and stayed there until well after I’d grown and moved from my home town. When they purchased it, it was a house and a small utility shed set on 3 acres of land. From this, my father built a combination barn and garage with his bare hands. He poured the concrete slab for the foundation, he put up every board, hammered every nail. That barn and garage are still standing today, though the property no longer remains in my family. He built fences, worked on our cars, created beautiful bookshelves inside disused closet spaces and did a multitude of other handy things to improve our home.
Meanwhile, my mother did things like canning food, sewing clothes for all of us, cooking three meals a day for us (unless it was the school year, in which case it was only 2) and crocheting everything from dolls to afghans to baby blankets for each and every family member, neighbor or community member who had a baby. I grew up baking holiday cookies for all of my neighbors to be delivered on Christmas Eve, and having my mother sew my Halloween costume each and every year.
So, I it’s no real surprise that I have a weakness for farmer’s markets and canning, sewing, cross stitch and so many other things that would be considered “classic”. I suppose all of these skills are the kind that in our society, are waning, but are alive and well in many other places in the world. This last summer, I swear I canned more than I actually cooked! But why is it that these skills are beginning to become scarce? Are they really useful in this day and age, or are these outdated notions in a world that moves too fast for the creation process to come to fruition?
Perhaps it is our fast paced world, where we can buy anything we could possibly want rather than making it ourselves. Right now, I could walk down to the store and get a new dress, some applesauce and a can of sauerkraut all in the same place, so why make it myself?
Pride in having done it yourself comes to mind, first and foremost. Sometimes, when I’m standing in my kitchen preparing to make a meal for someone using my own canned goods, I give myself a pat on the back. Even when I’m not preparing for someone else, when it’s just me and the wife, I can look at all of the things I’ve made with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction knowing that I’ve made this. You remember that wonderful sense of accomplishment when you were a child and brought home your first macaroni Santa? How you felt when you presented it to your family? Yeah, I get that same sense of pride knowing that I did this myself.
When I wear a piece of jewelry that I’ve created in public, I often get compliments. My buttons burst with pride when someone comments about how “different” or “unusual” my jewelry is. I create it to my own desires, my own style. Which is another wonderful reason to “d.i.y.”… not having the same things everyone else has! I don’t know about you, but it gets exhausting trying to invent new ways to wear the same ol’ things. But if I make it myself, then I can be sure that mine will be the only one of its kind. There’s such a wonderful sense of accomplishment in making my own wearables!
And as for food, and why I can things, ferment my own sauerkraut, and cook nearly everything we eat from scratch? Because it just tastes better. Seriously, I know they say that hard work makes food taste better. (They say that, right? My mom always used to anyway.) But really! I don’t think it’s just working for it that makes it taste better. I genuinely think that what I make tastes better than what I can get in stores. For example, my sauerkraut. Have you ever tried absolutely fresh, taken from the jar it’s been fermented in sauerkraut? If you haven’t, it’s something I believe every sauerkraut lover should experience at least once in their lives. As strange as it sounds, I could likely go on forever about the virtues of home fermented sauerkraut. But I’ll save it for another post. Just trust me and try it.
Now you see why I have such a love for the classics. I encourage everyone to take a look at life, and if you can dedicate the time/energy/money to investing in learning an ‘old fashioned skill’, I highly recommend doing so. It’s amazing the things you can make, and it helps keep these things alive for another generation!