For 10 months of the pandemic 15 members of our family gathered at Brant Lake–in three separate houses.
We always came together for dinner, 15 individuals of varying ages, from grandparents to grandchildren. We quickly summarized the days events from waterskiing in summer and a giant soft ice cream cone at Crossroads to snow skiing at Gore Mountain.
But somehow, in the course of the dinner, we always gravitated to events that had occurred many years prior. This included two brothers in conflict, undressed grandchildren in an outdoor pool with a rubber slide and water pouring from a fast flowing hose. The older generation may have remembered the tales of a grandparent’s electric launch, the only one on Brant Lake, or the days when Brant Lake Farm was really a farm with a cow, a pig, and sheep. Perhaps the most frequent conversation centered on a book of photographs from an earlier era, little children dressed in buster brown clothes as they embarked on a trip to London more than 40 years ago. And then the books of wedding pictures as one generation matured.
As I listened to the conversations I realized that we were reverting to earlier years in a family’s history. We had returned to a time before the pandemic, when life seemed more secure and safer. For several moments or even hours we had escaped reality. An old photo or a familiar song was still very much alive and it brought a smile or even a tear to the most hardened profile and alleviated the present difficulties.
As a corollary to nostalgia, I have also discovered that many families are involved with tracing their genealogy. ”Our family came here from Europe in the 19th century. There was Aunt Sadie and Uncle Richard and…“. Researching a family tree takes us out of the tremulous present and transports us to imperishable times.
Nostalgia. Genealogy. We leave today and return to a time of permanence that cannot and has not changed. The imprint of the past is fixed forever. The past is known. The present–well who knows.
Let us be grateful for that which has already occurred and for that which is a given–-especially today.