Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

I mumbled the words "auld lang syne" for many celebrations of the New Year before taking time to check exactly what I was saying. Apparently, the phrase is old Scottish that translates to "old long since" or what might be phrased today "days long gone" or "the good old days". Well, something like that. On this, the last day of 2008, I am fond of the phrasing "old long since". It brings to mind a stream of thoughts that have been recurring since last week when Laura, our middle daughter, returned from the bath off the guest room at my mom's house and asked "Dad, how long have you been shaving with that razor?" She was referring to this;

It is a double edge razor that my dad gave me when I was 12 or 13. Yes, I needed to shave at an early age. So the answer to her question was "a little over 40 years." Well, the answer stung me a little and she and the others among the third generation present thought it was funny that someone would have a simple tool so long. As we discussed it a little, I added that I did not know how old it was when I got it, but it certainly was not new. It was a short and fun conversation.

But the conversation continues in my head. There was something deeper that I could not put together on short notice. Gradually, it has occurred to me this week. This little tool represents more than a quaint method to trim whiskers. It represents the different perspective that generations hold about the passing of time, our place in the universe, and other generations. What?!? All of that in a razor? Consider this; most of the readers of this post will be near the age of my children and have never used or thought about such a razor. Not only that, the notion of keeping one half a century seems beyond ridiculous to them. Disposable plastic and electric razors are all they have ever known. I understand how archaic it must seem. Really, I do. To prove that my generation has struggled with the same thought process, check out these pictures;

It is a razor blade sharpener. That's right, not only have razors not always been disposable, the blades were not always either. Guess what? Neither were plates, cups, or diapers. They were all washed and used again and again. And not that long ago none of those things were washed by placing them in a machine and turning a knob. You had to go outside to a pump for water and heat the water on a wood burning stove. You are thinking this went on in the days of George Washington but you would be surprised how recently some areas did not have electricity and indoor plumbing. So pardon me if I chuckle when youngsters who missed the "ice age" talk of 30 years ago and can't imagine the economic depression of 80 years ago, try to educate me on global warming and carbon offsets. I have had a soft life compared to my parents and they had it easy compared to their parents, etc. The current young generation has had it easier than all so far. To most of us that is a good thing. But microwaves and disposable diapers and razors and fast-food containers that make life so easy bring a price.

This little poem did not originate with my parents, but it states what they taught me by example;

Patch it up

Wear it out.

Make it do

Or do without.

It is a change we can believe in.


Bonnie Anderson said...

In two of the older houses in which I have lived, above the sink in the bathroom was an old medicine cabinet. And inside the medicine cabinet was a little slot with a small sign that said 'used razor blades' - I often wondered if anyone working under the house for whatever reason found all of those used razor blades.

Lerra said...

I can't even count how many razors I have purchased in my lifetime...

BabyJ20 said...

I can't count how many I've been though either... but I think I'll always remember that razor and shaving Dad's neck to clean up his hairline between haircuts!

Supabloggasuprememama said...

I thought they were saying old ainx-i. like anxiety. don't bother with old anxiety.

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