Friday, April 9, 2010

The simple life?

I often wondered why they called it ‘the simple life.’ The work is hard, the days are long, and the meals are made from scratch. Maybe it should be called… the honest life. Sunday’s were saved for church and family. Mothers loved their children and their tears were wiped away with an apron. Men were more concerned with earning an honest living for their families than trying to get ahead any way they could. Of course no one was perfect but there was always a desire to do the right thing, even if it was the difficult way. We weren’t ignorant to the world around us, maybe just a little more uncomplicated. If sophistication meant expensive toys, infidelity, parties and addiction, well we didn’t want any part of that anyway.

Families gathered for dinner while siblings kicked each other under the table. McDonald’s was a special treat you only got on birthdays, not just when mom is too tired to cook. Dad worked outside all day but tried hard to not miss sitting down with his family. The kiddos usually stayed at home with mom and spent the day making cookies, climbing trees, swinging and growing more freckles. The older kids were on the tractor or hanging out at the gas station getting a mountain dew with dad. Occasionally mom and dad would take time for each other on Friday nights and go to the show. That meant we got $20 to go to the video store and get a pizza and a movie. If there was extra money we got some M&Ms.

School was trouble-free. Tardiness was excused if it was calving season. Teachers were more lenient if you fell asleep in class because you were irrigating all night. People didn’t think twice about the gun seen on the seat of the pick-up in the parking lot. We all knew it was probably just used on coyotes. We didn’t have three hours of homework each night, but we didn’t waste time on video games or television either. There was always work to get done or more interesting games outside. We didn’t need a government figure setting up a diet and exercise plan for us. The only time we got fattening treats were those occasional weekends our parents went out. We prayed before games and meals. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning and usually accidently ended it “in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Fashion seemed to be stuck in time, or at least two years behind the bright lights, big city. I always liked that. Appropriate wedding attire was pearl snaps and your nice belt buckle. We got hand me downs and that was just fine. By the time we got them, our duds were only 7 years out of date and that’s not too shabby for a 4th grader!

My cousins were my best friends. It truly never occurred to me that everyone in the world didn’t have a cousin living down the road or in the next town. There were aunts and uncles to stop on the side of the road and pick you up when your car broke down. There was always someone to wave to when driving in town. Reunions were redundant because we saw each other at church every Sunday. Grandma baked cake and cookies and breads and all sorts of good things. Grandpa was my best friend and always had a trick up his sleeve.

We learned at an early age to do work. Kids always smelled a little bit like body odor, grease and dirt after cuddling with dad and reading a book at the end of the day. He taught us to work. And cuss. We learned to earn our toys and treats. There’s nothing like a long day of physical work to appreciate a paycheck, or a hot dinner and a soft bed. Our trampoline was sewn where the holes had formed and the joints were welded together in many places. When I was 5 my dad used to let me steer his purple ’71 Ford flat bed pick-up while he fed the cows. I stood on the seat and peeked over the dashboard. It was the same truck we piled in to go to the video store. The pick up that hauled a sick calf to shelter, pulled tractors out of the mud, and towed kids in an inner tube up and down a snowy field.

Mom taught us to love and forgive. Actually, she taught us everything. She taught her daughters to be mothers, and her sons to be gentlemen. She was compassionate when the world was not. She taught us to cook and do laundry. Mom was always the one to call the family for prayers before bed or to watch a movie together. She’s the one who really tied the whole family together.

The simple life, huh? Simple is a lot like honest, pure, true, wholesome, chaste, faithful, right and good. If that’s the way you want to describe my life. Well, thanks!


  1. WOW!!!! VERY well written Janel. You've got a talent.

  2. You brought tears to my eyes. This is beautiful. Thank you, a wonderful tribute to your parents and a great beginning.

  3. Thanks Janel! I needed this :) You've got some mad writing skills