The Bad Old Days

Some love talking about the good old days. But I’m telling you, my childhood wasn’t easy. We had to wait three minutes for our tube radios to warm up. We had to wade through six feet of green shag carpet to change a TV channel. To get reception, you adjusted rabbit ears or sent your brother up onto the roof to move the antenna. “Hold it right there!” you’d yell. “I think that’s Star Trek. Or it could be Lawrence Welk.” Those were the only two shows we had.

I’m telling you, the good old days weren’t all good.

There were no microwaves. Chicken pot pies took an hour to cook. If you wanted a mobile phone, you jerry-rigged two tin cans and a string. Phones were attached to walls. It took about a minute to dial any given number. Our phone had a three-foot cord, so you couldn’t move while talking. People in the room could hear every word you said. If you wanted privacy, you bought a curly extension cord, hid under the kitchen table and whispered until someone got wise to what you were up to, or just walked over to the wall and hung up on you.

We had to roll down car windows, lift garage doors and work out math problems without calculators. We used typewriters with no delete key, just little bottles of white-out. And when you painted your sister’s blouse with white-out, it was permanent. It caused your mother to use swear words like, “You stinker.”

No, my friends, the good old days were not all good.

Singer/songwriter Carly Simon once sang, “These are the good old days.” And I think she was onto something there. Each era has its obstacles and opportunities, its jolts and its joys. That’s life.

An old guy told me he was headed for the coffee shop. “We talk about how bad things are,” he said. “The kids. Music. Politics.”

I said, “Yah, these are tough times. But here’s an idea. Try talking about what God is up to. He’s at work, you know.” I told him about my friend who lost his house to a horrendous fire. How his church gathered around him. I told him of the 18-year-old who said, “My parents raised me an atheist. They gave me no hope, no meaning, no joy.”

Then he smiled. “I decided to rebel,” I told my older friend. “I found all these things and more in Jesus. God is at work. He’s doing a new thing. Right now. Today.”

“Hmmm,” he said, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

But I think we should. I think today should be busting at the seams with gratitude.

There is much to smile about. For one thing, I have GPS. I have never once missed folding those roadmaps.