Goodnight John Boy!

Did you say goodnight to each person in your house last night? What about this morning? Did you say "good morning" or "how are you today?" or even "hello?" A recent television commercial makes light of the Walton's habit of saying goodnight to each other as they climbed beneath their homemade quilts and snuggled in for the evening. Rumor has it, according to this commercial, they took way too long for this silly custom. But I think the advertising gurus are just sourly jealous.

I've watched a good bit of the Walton's lately and while I never even really liked the show that much when I was growing up (go figure - bratty 70s kid not so into watching depression era children walk around in overalls with no shoes), I've taken a real hankering to it now. Why? Because these are good people.

I kind of like the idea of good people. People who still use civil manners. People who earn their daily wages with an honest day's work. People who wash and iron their own clothes and clean their own toilets (I guess they had one, not so sure). People who keep the Lord's day holy and do the same for His name. People who dress decently when they're going out in public (except for the lack of shoes on the kids' feet, but hey it's Appalachia). People who shake hands on a deal and that seals it. People who pay cash for what they buy and don't buy what they can't pay cash for. People who take good care of the few possessions they have, but hold them loosely all the same. People who insist on good manners and respect from their children and don't let them run wild around someone else's table at a restaurant. And people who know how to grow and cook their own food, and know how to plan their meals and stretch their leftovers so precious foods are not wasted.

The Waltons make me long for what is missing in our culture, what we forfeited (true leisure time, relaxed time with family, order, grace, true conservation, and a strong work ethic) in order to have the stuff we have today (convenience, easy money, credit, the latest gadgets, glitz and glamor, and ease). I realize the Waltons, or the family of Earl Hamner's past that they represent, didn't really think they had it all that great and would probably wave off my admiration with a "honey, you don't know how hard we had it." But I do realize. I also realize though how good they had it.

To tell you the truth, after watching an episode or two of The Waltons I don't have much of an appetite for our modern television shows. Things like Desperate Housewives, which I don't watch anyhow, and The Office, which I do watch occasionally, kind of make your stomach turn after an hour of watching folks who have integrity and a strong work ethic. In fact, walking into my own kitchen and looking into my pantry or my refrigerator kind of make my stomach turn, too, after watching this frugal, penny-pinching family take such joy in a simple, homecooked meal.

I'm not proposing we all revert back to wearing flour sack dresses and listening to the radio each night, but I think we could all gain a little perspective on this recent "financial crisis" with a mandatory viewing of an episode or two of The Waltons. This, folks, is no depression. For some people, maybe even your family, it's been hard and a challenge. But my bet is you still have shoes to put on your children's feet and you're still eating fast food occasionally. And you're probably watching anything and everything but the Waltons on your satellite TV too. Plainly put, we're spoiled and in my opinion we're starting to stink.

I don't mean to start your day or end your day or interrupt your lunch break with my sour disposition, but I'm just a little put off today by our whiny, frivolous, rude, wasteful, and self-seeking culture. But before my attitude gets too stinky I'd better turn this thing in a better direction.

Maybe we should just all consider what about the old days needs to be brought back into style, not including bell bottom jeans or sideburns or macrame bags. I'm talking about the way we treat each other, the way we spend (or don't spend) our money, the way we work, and the way we honor God with our words and behavior. Most of all, I suppose, I long for good, strong parenting. I long for the parents who expect respect and don't tolerate sloppy behavior. I long for parents who still rule the roost and let their kids know it. That, I suppose, is what the Waltons make me most nostalgic for.

What about you? What do you long to see a resurgence of? What do you think we ought to bring back into style? Hey, it can be something weighty or something frivolous (I kind of like the idea of the adults sitting around and drinking coffee after dinner, for instance). You name it. I'd love to hear about it!

And after