Maybe like me you remember the old Kris Kristofferson song from 1970. I was just a kid then, 10 years old. At that time we girls had the radio on all the time, especially me. Saturday mornings we cleaned house with mom and listened to Casey Kasem's American Top 40.
Being the youngest I had dusting under the tables, table leg duty. In the background of all this 'happy' work, was the sounds of the current hits and Casey's Long Distance Dedications.
Those are great memories and they were happy times for the most part. Childhood at my house did not come without turmoil at times. For the most part our parents did the best they knew how, or at least we knew that was the desire of their hearts.
My favorite part of Saturday was the collective clean-up, fix-up, and preparation for a settling down at about 5:00 for Sunday's rest. I remember the farm trucks going to the places where ever they went on Saturday to do whatever it was they did here in rural farm country. I remember the smiles and greetings most everyone shared. Folks getting the groceries done so they were ready for the Sunday meal. I loved how the whole community was preparing to slow down, and embrace the day that was to follow.
Instead of mowing the lawn or getting groceries many of us (not all obviously) were off to Sunday School and Church. (before you say it, it wasn't mandatory at my house, it was a choice) My favorite memories of Sunday was when my mom and dad invited someone over for a Sunday meal. It was a window to the world outside of mine, into the lives of people who had made choices that maybe I too could make some day, or maybe not.
Later when the dishes were finished, the house became so quiet, as my parents went off for the Sunday afternoon nap. I went outside and took walks, enjoyed the sunshine and my tree swing. I can't remember the other 3 kids and what they did. I also can't remember winter, other than a few snow days, sledding down the hill that was our back yard and neighboring field.
Obviously I knew not everyone had it so good. And don't get me wrong. We were a family existing on limited means. Four kids and my mom worked at the local shoe factory for a while. I had hand me down clothes I didn't like that didn't fit me well, along with hand me down shoes that didn't fit properly. (That may explain the many clothes in my current closet that just hang there in case I want to wear them one day. 😌)
The lack mattered, but it wasn't the end all of my thoughts. I knew one day I'd grow up and dress like Mary Tyler Moore. 😂 That didn't happen, because styles changed and Jane Fonda became an icon with her fitness attire and the 80's big hair, colorful styles with big shoulders. I still prefer the Mary Tyler Moore style 😉
What has Kris Kristopherson's song and all this meandering down memory lane got to do with anything? Choices.
Our choices create life or take it away. Our choices affect not only ourselves and those around us, it also affects generations to come, our own children and great, great grand children. It's not bad luck or happenstance that creates my future and our families future. It's focused choices.
We know many people are born into poverty and enslaved living in counties that don't allow many choices.
We also know that there is poverty and strife in families and communities here in our country. We can't go back and change the choices that were made to create such lives. However, as free people with even very modest incomes we can make choices that afford happiness and a better life for those coming after us.
Living as I did in a free country filled with opportunities, I knew I was blessed. In fact it was obvious to me as a child that my parents had made the better choice for their lives. They grew up in far less than perfect circumstances. Alcoholic addictions and parents with issues that offered difficult childhood experiences were their lot. Still rather than following that parental example and feeling as if they had no choice they made a better life for us. Through all the struggles and the extended family's efforts to pull them down, they continued to fight the good fight and stay the course making distinctions that offered themselves and their children and grand children much better lives. In fact some of those 'right' choices come with some very funny stories as we look back in time. The beauty of that is the choice made in that moment allows us to look back and laugh. How good is that?
Hope is a beautiful thing. The Bible says without hope people perish. We see that lived out daily in our own country. A society can try to destroy hope. Our choices can create hope. As older parents we still have to make choices that offer that same hope we had available to us as young parents. We do this in many ways. Choosing to speak hope into our children and grandchildren with truth rather than fear is one way. Continuing to live in hope is the best example as children of every age learn what they live.
At the age of 10, without the video to display the song's meaning, I knew as much as I liked this song, I was blessed. I knew those before me had made significantly better choices even under the pressure of the life they were born into.
Once a bad choice is made, however seemingly insignificant, that choice may lead to another and down a darker path than the last. Unless someone has the knowledge, strength and wisdom to fight back, making better choices even if at the time those choices seem insignificant and the situation hopeless, there will be no light at the end of the dark tunnel we're creating for ourselves and those to come.
And who knows, maybe our choices will instill in a future generation of our own family, someone who will influence someone who will make a huge difference for hope, freedom, and a better life for those in need.
These choices are more important than they may seem. In my own life I've always felt insignificant and not very influential. As a young mother though I made many choices every day that offered my children a better life. No one is perfect, but our hearts being in the right place is what our children see. In recent years I've had the opportunity to see my own son influence many young families walking beside them in their day to day.
These families were under the pressures of drug and alcohol use, unable to support their children, moving from partner to partner. They were unhappy, hopeless, and angry at life. Had I not made good choices, and my mom and dad not made good choices, even with all our lack, insignificance, self doubts, fears, these families would still be drowning in a drug induced poverty that breeds more of the same and worse.
Some say, he could have done that even without living the life we lived. Perhaps but not likely at all. Others would say, someone else would have come along and helped them. Maybe, but that attitude breeds more of the same hopelessness. Because of our choices his life was in a place where he could choose to offer hope to others. Hopelessness believes the lie that nothing good is possible.
Again, hope is a beautiful thing. As we see in this song, Sunday Morning Coming Down, a picture of lonely hopelessness, we look around our world and see so much more of it today. We can choose to look at the amazing, beautiful, lives, most readers of this live, and draw from that giving hope out of it. We can focus on how significant all the choices we've made up till this day were and how those choices have given our children and grandchildren opportunities they may not have otherwise known they had.
Choosing to age with the attitude that says I'm not old and insignificant, I'm mature and my life experience has given so much, is an attitude that spreads hope to our younger generation.
As parents we've done the hard work, still our job is not finished. Sharing with our peers an attitude of good things ahead and excitement for the next event in our lives offers hope.
During the dark days of the shut down, the simple act of buying paint for a furniture fix-up and a few seed packets without my saying a word inspired the clerk to find things to look forward to and created a good feeling in her. Her life was influenced for good simply by my own choice to live forward thinking. That in turn encouraged me to keep on looking forward to better days ahead.
I still enjoy the Kris Kristopherson song. It pops in my head many Sunday mornings. I still feel that same blessed feeling I had as a child. And I still say a prayer for those who need the hope I have. Maybe my small sphere of influence will have an impact on generations I will never know to continue making choices that reap beautiful rewards.