I wonder what they, the people of my grandparent's and great grandparent's generations would think of the way we live today...
Would they be overwhelmed by what we consider necessities? As I worked in my daughter's new home, helping prepare things for packing prior to a move overseas, I couldn't help but ponder. I have the suitcase that my grandfather brought with him from Greece, carrying all he needed... not very large... and I was thinking of this, as we were working out how much 6 cubic metres would be. This is just the basic shipping allowance that had been determined to cover mainly the children's toys, a few small items of their child size furniture, books, DVDs, etc. It didn't include the three large suitcases, plus assorted backpacks, cabin bags, etc. that would be taken on the flight as personal luggage, with possibly an extra suitcase to be added and paid for under excess baggage. Nor did it include the bulk of the family possessions that were going in to storage for the next two years.
The downsized apartment that they are moving to would have seemed so luxurious to my ancestors...my grandfather built his family's home in a small country town, with some aid from his eldest son, then aged 13. It consisted of a kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom, added to over the years to include a verandah, lounge room and an office, tiny as it was, with beds on the verandahs. It was considered quite adequate to house a family of 11, yet the whole place would have more than happily fitted into the downstairs floor of my daughter's home.
It was built of timber slabs, the gaps in between the timber were caulked with old newspapers, torn and pasted with a mixture of flour and water. It didn't have a fan forced oven, just a wood stove which was always alight, always with a kettle boiling on the side and, it seemed, a stockpot, or large pot of soup. The cakes and scones that came from that oven were incredibly mouth watering... no thermostat or temperature controls, just years of experience that led to production of the perfect biscuits or the tantalising roasts.
No foyer chandeliers, just hurricane lamps, or candles, lit the home, prior to electricity, yet what a wonderful atmosphere they provided. I always loved nights at my grandparent's home, I always felt cosy and safe.
A copper served the laundry needs of this large family, as well as providing hot water and coming in very handy at Christmas for boiling the puddings. Try doing that in a water saving fully automatic washing machine! Would they have happily swapped their meat safe, cooled by wet hessian bags draped from the top and over the sides for a stainless steel refrigerator/freezer combination that delivers ice in cubes or crushed, as well as perfectly chilled water, without having to open the door... I'm sure my grandmother would have been taken aback with a buzzer that warns that the temperature is rising as the door has been opened too long!
My own home is also much larger, though by no means a large home. We feel crowded with three adults, admittedly we have two households and all that entails, stored in one. Yet we have room for computers, several sound systems, televisions and all the paraphernalia considered normal today.
I grew up in what was basically a two room house, with a laundry/shower and a small extra room that was used for a bedroom, though it barely held a 3/4 bed. There was always room for family and friends to stay though. We had some great times when my aunt and uncle and three sons came to stay... it seemed there were bodies everywhere, but what fun we had, and what a great excuse to giggle a lot.
As each generation prospers more than the last, it is not the trimmings or the gadgets or the size of the home that matters, rather the treasures within are what they have always been... that is the love and respect that is taught and fostered within a family. That, my friends, is the true treasure of a home.
Crissouli © 2007