More and more choices, less and less lessons


Remember when a frequent question of spouses after the lights were out and they were in bed was “Did you wind the clock?” Not many of us still have clocks that need winding, but that’s not my point of discussion; it’s THE clock.

We had A clock, ONE clock. Menfolk had a pocket watch in the front of their bib overalls to give them the time of day when working in the fields, and maybe a “Sunday” gold watch that wasn’t accurate. If women had a watch, it was probably a treasured piece of jewelry worn on a chain or pinned to their “Sunday” dress.

Some families owned a pendulum clock or a mantel clock passed down from the past generation, but most families had A clock.

Look around your house today and count how many clocks you have. My kitchen has a clock on the wall in addition to the one “built in” on the stove. One sits near the TV, others in the bathroom, on the bedside table and on my office desk. The computer has the time on the corner of the screen and out in the car is the clock on the dash. My cell phone tells me the time as does the watch on my wrist.

Unreasonable, isn’t it?

A similar situation involves THE scissors. The same pair was used for snipping string, cutting out a dress and other fabric for sewing, trimming hair, gathering a bouquet of zennias from the garden, shaping fingernails and making paper dolls. If they became dull, Papa sharpened them with the fine whetstone.

As our “affluence” grew, we gained pinking shears and small embroidery scissors for the sewing machine drawer; stronger clippers for grass and flowers; manicure scissors with tiny curved blades; kitchen shears for food preparation tasks; paper-cutting scissors for the little ones’ projects. Specially designed for special needs is a helpful thing, but dozens?

The shoe rack in our closet is another indicator of how far from necessities our tendency to obtain more and more has led us.

I was fortunate, and knew it. I always had shoes for school that did not have holes in the soles. Everyone didn’t. I took them off as soon as I got home and put on my everyday shoes. My third pair of shoes was made of patent leather, suitable for Sunday wear winter and summer.

I remember the first pair of colorful canvas play shoes that were bought for me. I felt that I had stepped beyond having what I needed into extravagance.

And look at us now. Comfort shoes—a different pair for walking, running, working around the house and to interchange and let those we wore last rest. Sandals for the summer season allow us to express our special likes with beads and colors and even flowers; boots for winter.

We make sure that we have dress shoes to coordinate with all the colors in our wardrobe, and a host of others from which we must take the time to select.

It is nice to enjoy comfort and choices, but it probably wouldn’t hurt any of us to get by with fewer.

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