Sunday, 7 May 2017

No Shopping?

Garth Williams (illustrator)

Are you one of the millions of people who has read the Little House in the Prairie series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder?   Many people, myself included, have read and re-read the books and read them to our children.    Down to earth tales of family life in pioneer America and guess what?   No shopping.  (almost).   Somehow this family lived their life, their adventures, their struggles with little money.   They would be considered poor today, no doubt, but they didn't think of themselves in that way.   Their neighbours were all in similar situations.    But the love they had for each other, the hard work they engaged in, the ingenuity and inventiveness shines through every book.

I suspect the foregoing is one of the reasons these books have endured.   We want some of that in our lives.   Can we replicate it in any form?

The Ingalls children all had chores which they were expected to do without complaining.   Pioneer life was labour intensive and everyone had to pitch in to make it work.   Laura even took on work that was not considered appropriate for girls or women--heavy farm work pitching hay--because she was needed.    They were able to produce much of what they used.   Pa Ingalls hauled logs manually using his horses to build their home, Ma Ingalls gathered river side straw to make summer hats -- you get the picture.  These skills must have been passed on to them by older relatives.  

In Little Town on the Prairie the Saturday evening socials held in the town were free entertainment for all.   Talent shows of a sort and entertainment by town residents ending with a pot luck provided by the town ladies.   Reading that chapter made everything sound heartwarming, even hilarious.   Some family reunions are a little like that, as long as they're not held in a hotel.

Yes, the Ingalls did go shopping, maybe twice a year.   They needed fabric to replenish their sparse wardrobe occasionally or metal teeth for the farm harvester but it was a rare occasion and purchases were carefully considered.

If Little House in the Prairie wasn't part of your childhood reading, you must have read Nancy Drew Mysteries  or the Hardy Boys.    Lots of adventures and not much shopping.  

We like to keep young people safe nowadays so there aren't many adventures.   Lots of shopping and screen time though.  It gets to be a habit.

Garth Williams, Illustrator

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