The Greatest Generation, Indeed

On the Sunday before Christmas, Mr. Gore and I sat down after  lunch to watch “White Christmas”. I had been terribly behind in my holiday movie viewing and was determined to catch up before Christmas Day.

But five minutes into the movie, I was silently crying. And not the kind of cry where one tear leaks out during the sentimental scene of a movie, but the kind where your shoulders are shaking and you’re working really hard to get a grip before your husband notices. “What’s wrong me with me?!” I thought…

Is it the story of the demoted general that set me off?…

or the nostalgia of watching one of my favorite movies one day before Christmas Eve, our beautifully lit Christmas tree in my peripheral vision?…

No.

Turns out I was pregnant and didn’t know it.

But, hormonal fluctuations aside, my tears were actually stemming from something else entirely, and it only took a few seconds of introspection to figure it out.

I have a longtime love for classic movies, dating back to my 12th year when I first saw June Allyson in the 1949 version of “Little Women” at my Aunt Myrtle’s house. Until that day, I knew very little about the treasure trove of “old” movies available for our viewing pleasure today, but five minutes into that sweet little version of one of my favorite books, I was a goner, and silly as it sounds, my life was forever changed.

As soon as we returned home from our trip, my Mom and I hunted down my own copy of the movie, a VHS tape that I still have today, and my home collection of classic films has consistently grown since that time, as has my appreciation for an era that I had previously had very little knowledge of. Nearly 20 years later, our musical playlists are full of tunes from Bing, Doris, Frank, Gene, and Judy (but my favorites are Bing and Doris), my clothes are almost always a nod to my vintage sisters, our life is often a throwback to another era, and you’ll more likely find my children watching “Yankee Doodle Dandy” than any show on Disney Jr. (mostly because we don’t have cable…).

And I think I might be in love with Gary Cooper (via Seargent York). Sighhh…

When the calendar hits 1960 is when Mrs. Gore and all of her love for nostalgia dies, but until that cultural shift takes place, you’ll find my heart. I love the clothes. I love the tunes. I love the backdrops and the technicolor and the “special” effects. I love the time.

But the reason I was crying today had very little to do with my love for old movies…

and everything to do with my love for the people those old movies bring to mind.

You see, part of the reason I love a classic film is that, when I watch it, there is something so familiar about it…

I know these people.

I recognize the cadence of their voices…

the way they hold themselves…

their manners…

their humor…

their little bitty waists…

their houses and their furnishings and their wardrobes…

and guess what? Many of them are still among us.

Their hair is grey now and more wiry than before, their eyes are hidden behind thick glasses, and their gait is measured where it once was spry, but there is no denying the fact that the era that those classic films represents is still very much alive today.

And these are my people.

I see many of them every week at church.

They are gentle and kind.

They aren’t vulgar.

They dress like ladies and gentleman, and their actions match their clothes.

And, like the soldiers singing “We’ll Follow the Old Man” in White Christmas, many of them were off being heroes during WWII, fighting one of the greatest villains the world has ever known, spending Christmases away from their families, and writing love letters to the same spouses they are with today.

And it just hits me every once in awhile (like it did that day watching “White Christmas”) that we are still rubbing shoulders with the “greatest generation”. We sit among heroes. The very thought of it will make a lady put her head in her hands and weep, whether she is pregnant or not.

Many of these precious people don’t understand our culture today, and if they seem quiet or stand-offish, I think they are probably just at a complete loss as to how they can engage such a foreign group of young folks. Or perhaps many of them think we don’t need or want them in our lives…

That’s why I want to encourage you today to take the first step and reach out to the elderly in your churches and in your community. Ask them questions about their past. Listen to them talk. Seek their guidance and advice. Pick up on their gentle humor.

I guarantee you that, in the course of your conversation, you’ll recognize the voices of Bing and Doris and Gary and Judy…

but you might also gain a wealth of wisdom, and perhaps some of the best friends you’ve ever had.

~

Me with one of my best friends in the world, Ms. Annette. Her friendship and wisdom enrich my life…

And it just hits me every once in awhile (like it did that day watching “White Christmas”) that we are still rubbing shoulders with the “greatest generation”. We sit among heroes. The very thought of it will make a lady put her head in her hands and weep, whether she is pregnant or not.

Mrs. Gore’s Peace Treaty on Education

photo property of Amy Jackson

This is Mrs. Gore, coming to you today not as the preacher’s wife, or as Mother Hen, or as an opinionated (and unpaid) editorial writer.

For on September 6th, 2012, I will bear a new title, one that I have been looking forward to enjoying since I first felt the flutterings of human life in my womb.

On Setptember 6th, 2012, I will become…

Schoolmarmee.

Get it? Schoolmarm + Marmee (the famous mother from “Little Women”) = Schoolmarmee?…see, this is why I should never be a comedienne. My jokes take WAY too much explaining…

Even though that’s not really a joke. I’m really going to make my kids call me that when school is in session.

Anyhow, I digress.

On September 6th, 2012, I will put on my fake glasses, I will ring my giant school bell, and homeschool classes at Gore House will finally be in session.

To say I am beside myself would be the understatement of the school year. I LOVED Kindergarden and I’ve been trying to get back there for 25 loooong years.

The only thing that gives me pause in my excitement, however, is this little white elephant in the room. (I have the distinct feeling I didn’t get that cliche right…it’s just “elephant in the room” isn’t it? And a “white elephant party”…meh. Whatever.). And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed it…

Have you ever felt that little thread of tension that seems to be all wrapped up in discussions on education, especially among believers?

Anybody?

Let me explain: It seems at times that homeschoolers can’t mention anything that takes place in their school life without being met with unsolicited opinions and questions concerning homeschool in general, especially on the hot mess that is Facebook. On the other hand, I think many public schoolers feel judged by the homeschooling community for not keeping their kids at home, which might lead to a lot of these sometimes-heated-but-more-often-than-not-passive-agressive-in-nature discussions.

And so before our very special first day of school comes, I thought it might be nice to put together a little somethin’ that might bring a little peace between the home schools and the public schools and the private schools and the charter schools…

~

A Peace Treaty on Education, written by a Homeschooling Mother

Let us love one another and spur each other on to love and good works, even when it comes to our choice of schooling. I promise to cheer for your child to win the public school spelling bee if you promise to “like” the picture I share on Facebook of my child making a homemade bird feeder.

Let us be kind in our speech about the “other side” even when we are surrounded by our closest friends who happen to share our convictions about schooling.

Let us keepeth our opinion to ourselves, unless asked for it.

Let us not challenge or argue with one another on social media unless we are brave enough to have those same discussions or ask those same questions face-to-face. And if we are that brave, let’s just not do it, anyway.

Let us always assume the best, and refuse to jump to conclusions that we or our children are being judged when someone mentions “an advantage” to their particular choice of schooling.

Let us remember that how someone else chooses to raise their child is very personal and private and does not need to be dissected by someone else, nor is it deserving of even an offhand comment.

Let us remain involved in each other’s lives regardless of how we view education. Every parent has different convictions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate and support one another and show interest in the lives of each other’s children.

Let us be quick to listen and slow to speak, and keep an open mind whenever we do happen to engage in discussions concerning education; sometimes we might be surprised at how our convictions can change. This is, after all, what happened to me!

Let us pray for and encourage all schoolteachers, whether they are teaching a classroom full of 3rd graders or a daughter and a son in their kitchen.

Let us acknowledge that strange and socially awkward children come from home schools, public schools and private schools, as do the most influential and likable and sensible and charismatic in our society.

Let us refrain from turning an educational preference into a war of Christian faithfulness, and look at the entire scope of a person’s life before we decide whether they are or are not evangelistic or devout.

Let us not allow our personal convictions and opinions to prejudice us against children from any school, but determine to make them feel included and loved and encouraged, no matter what.

And most importantly, let us always bear in mind that the outside world will know we belong to God by our love for one another. If we lose that love and kindness over issues of education and parenting, we have also tragically lost the gospel.

~

Dost thou hereby pledge to adhere to this most peaceable treaty on education? Pass it on!