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Life in My Grandparents’ Era
My grandparents always tell me how our life is better now than when we were younger and that I should enjoy and appreciate my life instead of complaining. Admittedly, in most respects, our lives are much better than our grandparents’ childhoods.
Back in the day, gifts for grandparents were definitely not plasma TVs or mobile phones. No siree. In the words of my grandfather, “In my day, we were lucky if we got a plate of baked beans on the table for dinner.”
When my grandfather got married, he moved into a narrow room – and I repeat – a room A flat, with a divan mattress in the corner, and no running water or electricity. They cooked using a single gas hob and could not feed themselves. And when their son was born, times got so tough that they often had blackberries for dinner!
In my grandparents’ time, you were lucky if there was a sinkhole in your residence. Many people collected water from private wells or public pumps. A washing machine and dishwasher would no doubt have been extremely useful and would have made great birthday gifts for grandma or birthday gifts for grandpa, so they would have spent more time relaxing and less time washing dishes and clothes themselves!
As for debit and credit cards, my grandparents didn’t use ATM cards until they were 60 – imagine that! Instead, they always went inside the bank and did business face-to-face with the bank clerk, who even knew them by name.
My grandparents often joke that they don’t know why people call those times “the good old days” because there wasn’t much good in them. Grandfather told me the story of a young boy who committed suicide due to lack of food and money.
Of course, I treasure these stories and the time I spent with my grandparents. When I find myself drooling over a new gadget, I think of my gran ransacking the cupboards for the missing “twopence” piece that would have paid for a can of soup for her son’s dinner. It puts life into perspective.
People managed to get by without the mod-cons of today. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism of today’s modern conveniences, because frankly, many of them make life more enjoyable. On the other hand, perhaps we should remind ourselves that most of these are luxurious, No needs, even if the media and peer pressure would have us believe otherwise.
Nowadays, we can spend more time and money on our hobbies, which was unheard of in our grandparents’ time. My grandfather would have given anything to immerse himself in his favorite book, but he couldn’t afford it, he was strapped for cash.
When I was walking down the local high street with my gran, we passed a tanning bed salon and spied a girl, her skin orange-red, glowing outside the salon. Gran whispered to me: “Why pay the earth to cook your skin when the good Lord shines the sun on your head?” That made me laugh.
I can safely say that Kindles, GPS devices, Xboxes, Wiis and so on, would definitely not be on my grandpa’s shopping list or birthday presents for grandma. I believe there is definitely something to be said for personalized gifts for grandparents.
Most recently, I gave my grandfather a personalized football book for his 80th birthday. His name was displayed in gold on the front cover and a personal message on the inside cover. This particular book contains newspaper reports on the history of the Sunderland football team over the last century.
When he met him a week later, Grandfather was already halfway there. Not being a football lover myself, I could not share my grandfather’s enthusiasm as he touched on everything he read, such as famous league and cup wins, stars – past and present, etc. etc. etc. etc. But what made me happy was when he said it was one of the best gifts he ever got. ever. That made me very happy.
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