I grew up in a gardening and preserving family, so I have been a part of multi-generational canning, prepping and preserving sessions. I remember sitting under the big tree at my grandparents home, breaking and string beans with my grandmother, aunt, mom and my great-grandmother. I bought a couple of cases of beans the other day to split with my sister-in-law and we planned a bean breaking and canning night. She brought her daughter, and my mother-in-law also joined us. I wish I had thought to get a picture of all of us working together to get the beans done, but I forgot. Working with three other sets of hands really made the time go by much faster. We also had two canners going instead of just one, so that we were able to process all 32 quarts of beans in half the time.
I have got to get better at working with two canners on the stove though, I keep burning my arm. Same arm and in about the same place. Actually at this point, I think I have branded myself, there are three marks on my arm that have been there for a while and do not seem to be going anywhere.
It was fun working with everyone to get all the beans done. I am a big fan of multi-generational activities in pretty much all forms. I think everyone has something to learn in those situations, the oldest can learn from the youngest and the older and/or more experienced person can share so much wisdom that would otherwise be lost. I hear that all the time, especially about canning. When people find out I enjoy canning, they often comment about remembering watching their moms, or more frequently, their grandmothers while they canned. And then is is followed by a statement that makes me sad "but I never learned how". Hearing those words is even sadder when you hear the wistfulness and longing in their voices when they say them. Even worse is when they say that they never taught them. I asked my grandmother for years to teach me to crochet, but she never would. I finally taught myself and instead of being a fond reminder of my grandmother, there is no connection. I did however teach my friend's daughters to crochet some, so there are memories of passing on a skill, memories that make me smile, but no connection to my grandmother who loved to crochet.
How many skills and how much wisdom have been lost?
I used to attend a craft night once a month with some ladies from church. We had a core group of women that were there almost every month, the youngest was eight and the oldest was eighty five and the rest of us fell in there somewhere. Nothing made me happier than to see that little girl interacting with a woman old enough to be her great-grandmother. Most of the time it was the older woman instructing the younger, but there were times when the younger was able to teach the older.
I firmly believe that both lives were all the richer for sharing those experiences.
Many years ago I was the director of a large child care center and somehow met a woman that was an activity director for an assisted living facility. Once a month she would bring a bus load of kids to my center, or alternately I would bring a bunch of kids to her center. We would plan activities for them to do together, games, art projects, just different things that would appeal to both generations. Sometimes when they would come to my center, they would enjoy just sitting and watching the kids play on the playground. It was a great program that we kept going for a long time.
Again, how many skills and how much wisdom has been lost? If you have read this far, all I ask is that you remember to pass on your wisdom and skills. At times you will find yourself the teacher and at other times you will be the student. Be open when those opportunities present themselves. Whether you are taking time to teach or to learn, you are benefiting not only your life, but countless other lives as well.