If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.” It is usually a pleasurable, bittersweet experience or a feeling of homesickness for a time in the past that held significance or good memories. I often write articles about what people would call nostalgia. I call it nostalgizing, although I don’t know if that is a word or not.
I didn’t think of my writings as nostalgic because when I first began to write it, was to pass on family history to my children and grandchildren. I wanted them to know and remember the special relatives and friends that were here before them that they never had the opportunity to meet personally. Although most of those friends and relatives are now gone from this earth, they shaped our lives and helped make us who we are today and writing it down is a way of hoping future generations will know more about them and love them too.
Lately, I began thinking that maybe I should quit writing these stories. I wondered if they were helpful to others at all because it seemed to be looking backward instead of forward and we all need to think about the future and what we can do to make a difference for good in our world today.
When I looked up the word “nostalgia” I found that in the original language it is a compound word that means “homecoming” and “pain”. Then I happened to read an article that said that in the late 1600s, nostalgia was thought to be a neurological disease or disorder. I thought, “Oh great, what have I done?” However, as I read on, doctors later found that nostalgia was a good thing because nostalgia gives people roots and a sense of belonging. Nostalgia supplies strength to move forward and they also found that it counteracted loneliness, boredom, and anxiety.
Nostalgic stories often tell us about hard times and may sound depressing at first but a person nostalgizing may review a story from the past and be given hope. That grandfather or other relative who lived through a hard time like The Great Depression, a bankruptcy, or a terrible disaster gives us hope that situations can change. Maybe our own story of how we struggled through a catastrophe of our own will give someone else the hope of getting through a tough time. In other words, we can be an example to others by coping well through our own hard times. Studies have shown that soldiers who are away from home, people in nursing homes, or people who are home bound, benefit from remembering better times. This kind of nostalgia causes them to look forward to better times and they even begin to smile and laugh as past times are remembered.
If you think about it, there will come a time when future generations will be nostalgizing about us so perhaps a good way to help them when we are gone is to be making memories now. It’s not really something that you have to work at doing because children remember things you would not expect. I once asked my children what they remembered from their childhood and I got answers like:
“I remember playing in the hayloft and using a rope to pass things up and down from the loft.”
“I remember coming home and you had made brownies!”
“Did you know I buried your steak knives in the woods?”
“I remember when we painted my room purple.”
“I remember being Lazarus at church and Jesus raised me from the dead.”
“I remember on road trips it always rained caramels in the van.”
“ I remember playing fox and geese in the snow.”
These memories told me that it isn’t some big gift they remember or even a trip to a theme park that costs a lot of time and money. It’s the little day to day memories and being with family that is important to them. Oh yes, sometimes they threw a fit about having to take part in a required family outing or activity but when told that it was a family event and they were part of the family, the fit thrower who balked in the beginning ended up having the best time of all.
Do you ever do any nostalgizing? What do you remember?
I suppose I’ll keep nostalgizing and writing about it now and then. After all I don’t think I’ve told you about when Grandma Laura was 80 something and that big white rooster attacked her. Let’s just say he never bothered her again after being bonked on the head with her walking stick.
“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”
Contributed by Pamela Perry Blaine