Monday, April 26, 2010

ANZAC thoughts.

As with every year, ANZAC day gets us thinking. Now that our children are getting older, they are thinking and asking questions too.

We don't attend a dawn service, but am seriously questioning why. Our babies aren't so baby anymore and we could certainly haul ourselves out of bed for such a worthy occasion. Maybe next year we should plan to complete this task and it may help answer the many questions from our kids.

We have a lot to be thankful for being New Zealander's and ANZAC day makes hubby and I even more respectful of our grand and great grandparents. Mark's grandad served as did many of his mates. It's very difficult subject to teach and help today's children understand. The hardship in particular.
Being young and travelling away from the home you have ever known. Leaving your loved ones, mum and dad, wife and children to fight for your country. Sounds heroic but I'm sure it didn't always feel that way. Many of the men were idle for much of their 'tour of duty', others injured and with a view of the war from an hospital window. Mark's grand-dad was a prisoner of war for some time, and when finally released and able to return home skeletal and half the man he was, in more ways than one I imagine. That's just it, it's extremely hard to imagine.
So, how does one manage to survive a war and return home to then survive a 'normal life' ?Especially, as I imagine you return from these world changing events as a very different person to the one you were before the war began.
Mark's grand-dad; George Lewis. An adorable man!

Being a mum and wife I do tend to focus on the women of war. I've always been a bit hopelessly in love with the romantic side of 'war-times'. The vintage fashions make we go a bit weak and the domestic kiwiana of the 30's - 50's is simply gorgeous and nostalgic.
I go on a bit myself about striving to be a domestic goddess. But these women knew the true meaning of it I think. Women of war would have had a mixed bag to deal with. Some may have felt liberated to be heading out to work, some guilty of working and raising children. Other's guilty that they were at home and not out working for the country and their 'boys'. Rationing and stretching out these supplies for their family.
The strain of not knowing if your loved one at war was going to return home and the loneliness of raising your family during this time. It seems there are some similarities across the generations here.
Grandma Lewis with two of her babies........and her cookbook!

The pressures of our current lifestyles raise a few of these same issues, just in a different context. Instead of domestic gods or goddesses however we are attempting to be superheroes. I'm not convinced it's doing us or our families much good. But our choices are sometimes limited, as for wartime, we need money for our families to survive so we do what we need to do. When I was donning my 'super-mum' outfit on a daily basis, working full time, running a classroom of busy kids and household of my own I thrived on it. So I thought. I loved the highs and 'good stress' that kept me going and succeeding. I must admit though, there were times when I just wanted off the treadmill. I wish it could just let up and I would be allowed to be one person instead of a million different personalities in a day.

But wartime brought about an important way of thinking for those left behind. A way of thinking that many writers and 'life coaches' are promoting. A life of more simpler means and a getting back to basics. It is remembering what is important to us as human beings and giving ourselves permission to slow down sometimes and enjoy life. When I'm trying to stretch our family budget or be more self sufficient I always think of our grandparents. I love reading mine and my husband's grandparent's cookbooks and tips from this time. The recipes are amazingly resourceful...............and they really work!!!
I think sometimes we have too many things to choose from. It often makes life more difficult, not easier as intended.

Anyway, the real point I wanted to highlight (and it's taken me this long to get to this paragraph lol ) is that our family has learnt a huge amount from our previous generation. ANZAC day and the entire weekend this year has simply reminded me to honour that learning and to make sure that I pass this knowledge on so that my children (and theirs) may learn from it too.

I may not make it dawn service, but I never miss a year with my ANZAC biscuits. We use the original recipe from Grandma's Edmonds cookbook (which is only just holding together at the spine). Delicious!

1 comment:

  1. After a quick coffee with my colleagues this morning, we all felt reflective and sad yesterday - perhaps we captured the mood. And yes, we all felt a little disillusioned with treadmills, isolation, lack of flexibility .....must have been a day for it :)
    Good post.... I didn't make Anzac biccies... but scones instead - still felt quite domesticated!


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