Blonde on the Prairie: Remember When...

Well would you look at that. Another 365 days have passed. In my head I don’t resolve to make and stick to any resolutions. I’ve determined that life is just an adventure of choices. I chose good this year- for the most part. I made a few mistakes but all of them led me to a conviction that either taught me something or helped me to teach somebody else.

When I take the time to think the length of 365 days I usually over-shoot that and go back a wee bit further. Sad thing is I have all those years behind me to think back a wee bit further. In no time I find myself playing the “I remember when” game. I’m the only player in my thoughts which makes the game a lot more fun. I’m always the winner or in some cases the whiner.

I remember when I used to complain about having a $40 phone bill. It even went up to $8 and some cents when I made too many long distance calls to my mama. That’s when I had this thing called a landline telephone. You may have seen one. It hooked in to a jack built in to the wall and you dialed numbers or used a push button model.

Now I think that paying $240 for two cell phones and a computer data card a month is getting a good deal.

I remember when I remembered everyone’s phone number by heart. Now I couldn’t tell you any number by heart unless it is my husband’s number or 911. You see, technology has a way of remembering the phone numbers for me. The less I have to remember – the less my brain works.
Technology therefore, is not a good thing for my brain. Maybe there is a memory game I could play on the computer. I’ll need to investigate that this coming year.

I remember when I was the passenger in the car my pa was driving. He drove us from Harwood, N.D. to West Fargo, N.D. We pulled in to a gas station and my quiet father cursed. “What’s wrong,” I asked sensing something very bad!

Pa complained, “Gas just went up to 50 cents per gallon.”

I’m happy he is getting his free ride in Heaven now and not having to see the ridiculous amount we’re paying even at the current deflated prices. What a psychological game gas prices are. The powers that be elevate them up to nearly four dollars per gallon so that when it drops to three dollars a gallon over time we nudge our neighbor and say, “Praise the Lord! Wouldja look at that Harvey! Gas is only three dollars a gallon!” Only! Pfft!

I remember when I could go to see a movie for $1.50. Now I have to pay $10.50. The price of popcorn is a racket of Mafioso proportions! La Familia must have their hand in the movie popcorn business. Who knew the Irish and Italians even liked popcorn? If the price of movie popcorn and treats stay where they’re at I’m going to begin bringing in contraband home-popped popcorn under my coat. Let the punishment fit the crime!

I remember when family was sacred no matter how far removed they were.
I remember when neighbors stopped by for pie and coffee and looked through the new Sears catalog together.

I remember begging for the JC Penny catalog just so I could dream. I’d always turn to the bedding section. I’d dream of the frilly, lacy, girly-girl bedspreads and not just Grandma’s left over quilts.

I remember kissing my mom and dad goodnight. I remember hugging my brother and not just texting him on a cold, plastic device, “G’nite!”
Remembering is easy. I could remember the rest of my days away.

What I forget is how it all went so wrong?

It doesn’t have to be, you see.

We could be good neighbors, family and friends again.

We could use this year to remember how to forgive and be kind. We could turn off our television and computers and make eye to eye contact. We could concentrate on charity and not entitlements. We could touch and hug and sting popcorn at Christmas like the Walton’s. Together we could believe what we want to believe and not have to remove nativity scenes and gay pride posters. We could “Love thy neighbor” and be done with it.
I remember when I could have never believed the degradation of society could have gotten to this point.

This year I resolve not to be an idealist.

I will live my new way of living. As I type this I have been diagnosed with bronchitis. I’m coughing like the dickens and lo and behold I have turned the words of the bottle of diabetic cough syrup in to a new way of understanding.

The bottle reads, “Cough Expectorant and Suppressant.”

Take the root of the words “expect” and “suppress.”

This new year we should expect more of ourselves, our morals and our virtues. We should expect to stand up for what is right and good and fair in all things.

We should suppress letting the world, our employers, the naysayers, the government and even family members suppress us from living our best life now.

I’ll one day look back on this column remembering when I wrote it – laughing that gas was really only $3 a gallon and calling myself crazy for taking a lesson from a cough syrup bottle.

As I cough away this old year I expect to not cough at all in the New Year. I pray the suppression of illness, debt, unkind thoughts, and memory loss to each and every one of you-forevermore. 2013 – I believe to receive-will be a good one. Now go live it people! Kindly!

Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.