Dear Mom, When Did You Stop Caring Where Things Came From?

leotie 4

Dear Mama,

Time is such a funny thing it really does change everything. Your babies grew to girls, then women, and now we create new stories with our own swiftly growing families. I’m always happy to reflect on the upbringing you bestowed upon us and how much the past contrasts the present. I remember when we were poor I thought we had everything, each day was full of your love, lessons, and creativity, it wasn’t about objects, it was about us as a family and making the most of what we had with the help of our healthy bodies, souls, and minds.

I only became aware we didn’t have as much as others when we started to have more. One trades their time for money, but time is much more precious than money, or any object a paid purchase brings.

I remember, in the summer, when we used to pile up in that beat up old station wagon; you, my sisters and I, and head out to the strawberry farm. We were always dressed in floral print sundresses, our hair all in braids, or at least that’s how I remember it, and you’d let us roam through the plenteous patch picking. You told us how botanists don’t consider strawberries true berries since their seeds are on the outside and that a serving of strawberries has more vitamin c than an orange. We would spend the whole afternoon filling our baskets to the brim until our family sized bucket was full, then we’d pile back into the car and head home to trim and store the strawberries for the months to come.

These days you just buy them frozen from Costco, in bulk.

I remember too that time you found that beautiful Norwegian wool sweater at the second-hand store and brought it home with such pride. We sat and looked at the stunning knitwork together, and you told me you wish your own mother had lived long enough to teach you how to make such a pretty piece. You’d dress me in it when the house got cold, and we’d sit there, with a homemade cup of hot chocolate in our hands, reading books; you, me and my sisters, all cozied up on the couch.

These days we just flip on the heating and sit in our t-shirts watching t.v , silently sipping on instant ‘mint flavored’ hot chocolate which came from a little packet. Wearing the unremarkable clothing we picked up at the mall.

I remember preparing to go buy food with you, and the canvas bags and crates we’d bring to carry our finds. We’d drive to the market and carefully pick from the products in season, from our favorite farmers who grew on local land. You’d teach us why we only ate pumpkin in the winter, how far Banana’s fly to reach us, and how long it takes each fruit and vegetable to grow.

These days we have our food delivered in plastic bags and have no idea what farm, if any, each product came from.

I remember too before we ever owned a freezer, I begged you for pop tarts and pizza pops like my friends brought to school and you scoffed at the idea of feeding your children pre-packaged goods. Even our cereal was homemade at that point, I still remember the smell of granola toasting in the oven, and the sound of you pouring it into the big mason jar after it had cooled.

Today, even our fruit comes in packaging, and I recently found a box of pop tarts in your freezer.

I have another memory of you picking me up from school one day. You’d had your long hair cut short and you wore those big vintage sunglasses you’ve had since the late 70s. You had on a thick strapped purple tank top, discolored from years of wear but fit to perfection, and those loose patterned trousers your sister had made you by hand when you were in your late teens. On your shoulder was the bag you always carried, a worn leather satchel which you’d found on your travels before my sisters and I were even a twinkle in your eye.

To this day that look has guided me in my closet curation, but you’ve since shifted to fast fashion buys.

I guess what I’m trying to tell you mama, is I cherish those memories, what they taught me and how they created a scope of understanding for my sisters and I. We followed suit in your expressions, carefully choosing our food and taking an interest in the stories behind each product that we buy. We’re mindful of how our actions affect the planet, of the how’s, what’s and reasons why. And we’re so grateful for you, for more reasons than we could ever tell you. But sometimes mama, we do wish we could roll back time to those days when you cared where things came from and inspired us to do the same.

Holly is a Canadian living in Paris and is passionate about eco and ethical living. She is currently working on a 365 day series called #GoneGreen2016 for which she writes a daily post for her blog, Leotie Lovely, on how to live more sustainably and ethically. Holly looks to the wisdom of the First Nations Peoples who, along with her mother, are responsible for her love, respect, and understanding of the earth.

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