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The Greatest Decade

The greatest decade of the twentieth century is this week’s topic. 1900 to 1999. Let’s see. The 90’s had okay clothes. Music, though Grunge is not my thing. It did have some good Techno, though, and you can sort of date me musically to the 90’s based on how much Nine Inch Nails and Frontline Assembly shows up in my playlist. Got to see my first total solar eclipse in the 90’s, too. On a ship. In the Caribbean. The three plus minutes of totality were worth having gone into debt for. I got married in the 90’s. Graduated from college, too.

If you look at the radio station I favor and look at the music I buy these days, you’ll find that I’m a throwback to New Wave and to the dance music (not disco – oh GODS – not disco, that crap’s way too slow) of the 80’s. I spent a lot of time in under 21 dance clubs (no alcohol, no real meat market, fewer fights, stabbings, shootings). The fashionable – which I was not and have never been – had insanely big hair and clothes that were more accessory than clothing. Teenage anthem movies were big. (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Flashdance, Footloose . . .) It was a huge political decade. We saw the end of the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall came down. In the Pacific Northwest, Mount St. Helens came down as ash all over the state.

The 70’s? Great decade despite the clothes, the music and the hair. Thank the gods I was a child and therefore not subject to the fashions of the day. I still have shame over some of the bell bottom jeans I wore as a kid. Man, some of those things doubled as split skirts. What I liked about the 70’s was that Nixon ended the Vietnam war – before getting his butt impeached. This mattered. Dad was in the Air Force and got stationed to Vietnam. Ended up not going because THE day he was to report to his transport, he came down with mono. Flight surgeon grounded him. Thus, I still have a father. We ended up stationed in Iceland during the 70’s. My sister and I got to see things few other people ever get to see: Blue whales migrating past the rocks we were standing on. A volcano erupting (from a distance). Geysers – up close. The slash through Iceland that is the mid-Atlantic Rift pulling the two sections of the island apart. It was an amazing experience. The rest of the decade, after we returned to the US, was full of things like Girl Scout camps, strep throat and ear infections. Sometimes, all three things at once.

Ah, but the 60’s. THIS is the one I think takes the title of Greatest Decade. Yeah, yeah. Stupid clothes. Stupid hair. But hope and optimism? Available in spades. Along with enough people all questioning the status quo at the same time that great changes in social policy followed. Granted, I’m a little annoyed that a bunch of the people who participated in all of that activism seem bound and determined to undo it all now – but that’s another post for another time. I’d rather focus on the power of the masses to effect great change in a country when the people are galvanized by any number of causes. Civil rights were won – not that racism died – but a meaningful start to recognizing humans as humans regardless of skin color at least got underway. Above all things, I think the 60’s were the greatest decade because of the power of a single event to spur a generation of kids just barely old enough to remember sitting in front of their tiny black and white TV sets while dressed in footy pajamas, watching the first men step onto the moon. Had you been there and asked any of us who watched that with our own eyes what we wanted to be when we grew up, we’d have all given you the same answer: Astronaut. A bunch of us buckled down in science and math because we understood that’s what NASA wanted – our teachers made sure we knew. I harbored the astronaut fantasy right up to the point that the Air Force Academy recruiter told me that asthma disqualified me 100%. None of the militaries would have me. Since I get air sick just thinking about flying, it was probably for the best that no one wanted to entrust me with multimillion dollar equipment.

apollo_footprint_108l

But the images from when I was 5, feeling the weight of what I was watching, it never quite went away. It’s no mistake that my first published book was about a woman who’s the captain of her own space ship.

Tradition of Change

We’re a family cut adrift from our roots. Dad was in the military. When he enlisted, he left his Midwestern family behind. He married my southern mother and ended up being stationed far, far away from *her* family. They started a family of their own – by adopting cats. I was a distant second thought. At least you know I come by the cat thing honesty. Regardless, the point is that my folks came from two very different cultural holiday traditions. They had kids in a state as far away from their respective families as the Air Force could possibly send them. Alaska. In 1964 (fortunately after the massive earthquake).

We moved often. Including overseas to Iceland. Each place we lived had it’s own set of traditions.

So we cherry picked. Nothing was sacred. Some of the food came from my dad’s family. Most came from mom’s. Everything else? Totally up for grabs. In Iceland, post Christmas, there’s a midwinter/early spring holiday wherein kids put a shoe in a window sill. In the morning, the shoe is filled with candy, treats and coins. My folks were willing to play that game, but only while we were in Iceland. Once we got back to the states, that was over. 🙂 We settled in the US after Dad retired and we fell into a set of traditions – maybe habits. They weathered me getting married – even reached out to encompass my husband’s family, and welcomed my younger sister’s baby into the mix.

But these days, change is once again the name of the holidays. For all of us. My husband’s family moved to sunshine. Florida. After last holiday season, my husband and I looked at my folks, you know, the only people with an actual house, and we realized they were exhausted after hosting the holidays. Mom had been doing most of the holiday cooking for the past fifty years.

It was time to cut my parents a break. Either my sister or I had to step up and host, or we had to come up with some new traditions again. I live on a boat with an oven the size of a bread box and maybe 400 square feet of living space. My sister lives in a trailer with her daughter. She has a real oven, but no more space than I have.

So this Thanksgiving, we’re going out for our dinner. I’m still at Mom and Dad’s doing the holiday baking. For Christmas? We’re not sure yet. Yes. My folks will put up a Christmas tree (for the granddaughter – but the girl is old enough now to do a bunch of the work herself). My husband and I will likely sail the boat over for the week of the Christmas holiday. But at this point? We’re playing tradition by ear, because really? All my life, my parents attempted to make my weird, nomadic childhood as normal as possible. Now, they’re in their 70s. It’s my turn to make their lives as easy and comfortable as possible.

Oh. And there’s still a cat. He’s gotten into the spirit of this season of change. He decided to contribute to Thanksgiving Dinner. Behold, Nicadeimos, the mighty hunter and his offerings for the feast:

grasshopperFirst – grasshopper. Crunchy!

ShrewSecond: the shrew. He is SUCH a good provider. 🙂

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