Over forty years ago I left Lancaster county and my Mennonite life. Though I have visited dozens of times since then, Jacksonville, Florida, has been my home. Nonetheless, every single day I notice myself repeating rituals that reveal the imprint of my early training.
1. Eat pickled eggs – Usually reserved for Sunday dinners and picnics, I eat them for breakfast almost daily now.
2.“Outen the light” – I don’t use that Pennsylvania Dutch expression any more, but when no one is in a room, I make sure the light switch is turned off. “Don’t burn a hole in the daylight” is a saying that has burned into my psyche.
3. Wash dishes – Mother never had a dishwasher, except her own hands. Though I’ve had a dishwasher most of my married life, I often wash dishes by hand: fine china, big kettles, forks. Sometimes warm, soapy water is soothing.
4. Re-use aluminum foil – I never use Reynolds Wrap only once. It is cleaned off, folded and stored for multiple uses. (But I don’t scrape the residue from the wrapper of a stick of butter anymore unless it’s a big hunk. )
5. Tidy up – After retiring from full-time teaching, I dismissed my cleaning lady, so cleaning the house is in my domain once again. Dusting is the bane of my life, but I can’t abide dirty floors. Mother’s house was cleaned stem to stern once a week on a Friday with deep cleaning heralding the spring and fall seasons.
6. Water the maiden-hair fern – Grandma Longenecker loved ferns. She loved the misty, floaty, lacy aesthetic of ferns. My sister Janice has kept alive some off-shoots of Grandma’s. Here’s my maiden-hair fern:
7. Go up and down stairs – The Longenecker home place has 2 floors and an attic. The staircase between them has 18 steps. When it was time for bed, Mother would say, “It’s time to go up the wooden hill!” Now at almost 96, she still uses her stairs, once in the morning and once at bed-time. Bowed with age into an L-shape she ascends, fiercely defending her independence.
Our tri-level has a pair of stairs, 7 steps each. Good for keeping those calf muscles in shape.
If you don’t know what to do, just take the first step. “To take the first step in faith, you don’t have to see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Are any of these points similar to those in your life?
What can you add to the list from your own experience?