2020, Here We Come

As much as New Year’s Day is a snore of a holiday for non-partying me, I love starting a new year. A fresh start, a new journal, a chance to start over. I’ve heard it said that the 20s don’t technically begin this year, but actually start in 2021. While there’s logic behind this reasoning, I’ll follow the crowd on this one and welcome in the 20s with everyone else. At the worst, I’m just getting an extra year of the 20s.

The Youth’s Companion, March 10, 1927

It’s surreal that it’s the 20s again. Not that I remember this decade from the 1900s but for some reason, it doesn’t seem all that long ago and I’m not sure why. It might be because my grandparents were born in the 1920s and I have a connection to the decade that way. 

Or maybe it’s because it’s a decade from the past that we can relate to. There were huge differences from the early 1900s to the 1920s in every way, from transportation to clothing to technology. But  think we can identify more with an era of cars, radios, and electricity than we can relate to the times of ankle length dresses and horse-drawn carriages just a few years earlier.

I also think that the 20s don’t seem long ago is because the 1920s are as accessible to us as present-day media. What started as a quick youtube search this week led me down a rabbit hole of countless fascinating videos from the 1920s. The first talking movie was made in 1927, after all.

I’m really excited to explore the life of a 1920s housewife this year and for the decade to come. When people think of the Roaring 20s, they usually think of the flapper culture and the loosened morals. They were a part of the decade, of course, but those were only subsets of the culture. It was a fascinating time in history.

I’m hoping that 2020 kicks off a renewed interest in the 1920s. So, as long as it’s the 20s….Art Deco everything, please! Suits for men, dresses for women, and elegant hats for all! Jazz and songs like “I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time” and one of my favorites, “Stardust.” Sitting around the radio and dancing the Charleston. It would be the bee’s knees.

Grandmother’s Party; 1916

Everyone in the house had had a party except Grandmother. Mother had entertained twenty friends at cards and Janet had had a dancing party. Bob had a fine time giving some of his chums a sleigh ride following with a dinner at the club and Father had just bowed his last guest out from a dinner.

“Now it’s Grandmother’s turn,” said loyal Bob. “She ought to have a party. And have a party she did.

Never was more pleasure given to twelve elderly ladies than was theirs on that lovely September afternoon. The whole family entered into the spirit of the affair. Bob insisted that his part was to get the flowers and vines to decorate the house and Janet could arrange them. “I’m not going to have any of your ordinary garden stuff,” he announced,”anyone can have that. Grandmother’s party is to be the best ever.”

He always knew just where the most decorative things grew in wood and field and often brought home specimens the family had never seen nor heard of. So he came home laden with quantities of bittersweet, clematis, goldenrod, asters and the lovely berries of wahoo, Solomon’s seal and the wild smilax. These gave the keynote to the affair and the party grew into a real autumn party in every way.

Twelve of Grandmother ‘s friends were invited and word was sent to them that they would be called for at half past two o’clock on Thursday afternoon. In the neighborhood lived a man who was the proud owner of an old white horse that could hardly ever be persuaded to hurry. He had, too, a comfortable surrey with low steps, exactly right and easy for elderly people to step into. Mother asked him to call for all the ladies and then later (after supper) to take them home, especially the ones who were not well and strong.

It was a pretty picture, this one of twelve ladies in dainty gowns sitting with their work and visiting about people and customs of long ago. They had dainty work in light pretty colors—baby socks and lovely little sweaters, mittens and wristlets and beautiful stripes for bedspreads. After a while three little tables were brought in, each one daintily spread and decorated with Bob’s choicest berries. At each place was a four-leaved clover attached to a card that bore an appropriate wish. Then came refreshments, just the things that were dear to their hearts—the things they used to serve long ago! There was pressed chicken and cold tongue, raised biscuit, pickled peaches, dainty little crullers, pound cake and quince sauce. They sat and chatted and sipped their tea as only dear old ladies can. After supper Janet read a story—one of Mary Wilkins’ best, The Parsnip Stew. Then someone suggested a song and the picture of those happy grandmothers leaning back in their rockers, singing the old familiar words, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,” will be with me ever. Never was music sweeter and never did words come from happier hearts.

The old white horse came entirely too soon. With many a sincere word of appreciation and joy, the guests drove away and Grandmother sat down to think and talk it all over and to tell us that after all her party was the very nicest of all, to which Bob responded heartily, “You’re right, Grandmother. It was.”—

The Victories of the Flowers, by C.S. Harrison, 1906

“How precious are thy thoughts to me, Oh God.”

The unfolding of the blossom is a revelation of the precious thoughts of God. I am overwhelmed at times with the thought that God has been forgotten in our homes and in our land. In the early days, Minnesota was a glorious garden of flowers and all the air was laden with the breath of their smiles. Man turned His flower gardens into wheat fields, but it is too bad they did not remember what He can do for them. Flowers are His songs unsung, silent poems, eloquent with His praise.

How many battles have been lost in our great cities when there were only dingy walls instead of God’s green fields.

A friend of mine had charge of the railroad gardens of one line entering one of the neglected portions of Boston. The directors said “You need not try anything in the city limits. The hoodlum’s will tear them up as soon as you plant them.”

“Leave that to me,” he said, “There is a fine piece of ground and I want to show you what I can do with it.” He commenced work and the children of the slums gathered around him, boys and girls in dirt and rags.

He asked, “Have any of you seen the Boston gardens on the other side of the city?” Some of them had and gave glowing descriptions of their beauty.

“Now,” said he, “You boys and girls haven’t had fair play. They have put the flower gardens on the other side of the city and now l am going to plant some for you.” The little fellows were anxious to take hold and help.

“Now when the the flowers blossom, you must not touch them, for they are for everybody, and if you pick a flower it will be robbing the rest and it won’t be fair.” There were hundreds of plants left over and he distributed them. Tin cans were hunted up and filled with dirt and girls and boys took them home. And there were signs of improvement right along. A poor woman in her poverty and want sat in her dingy rooms in a great city. She was sick and depressed. A kind girl, one of God’s sunbeams, which He sometimes sends into the darkness, visited her and diagnosed the case. Next day she brought in two pots of roses in full bloom. Their beauty and fragrance were as ministers of light. How she loved them and cared for them, and from that day on she began to improve.

Sometimes the soul gets sick and needs feeding. Often on the farm there will be abundant food for the palate and stomach. Many a well fed woman has a great longing for something beautiful which will feed the higher nature, and that is why this love of the lovely is implanted in our souls down here. It is not safe to starve the best that is in us.