Lett's Set A Spell

Jan. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

In the so-called “good ole days,” there was no such thing as time to write New Year resolutions. The main focus was surviving — not doing “citified” things like talking about or writing down such goals as “I want to be a better person in 1940.” 

I can’t imagine my Grandpa, who was born in 1888, sitting down with a pencil and tablet to write, “I want to make a lot of money so I can buy a fancy car.” No way!

If Grandpa — better known as Puzie Lett or “Captain Puzie” — were to write resolutions in a journal back then on New Year’s Day, they might look like these: 

1917 – Let World War I be the war that ends all wars;

1932 – We must work harder to feed these nine “young’uns” and survive the Depression; 

1935 – Get rid of the boll weevil so cotton yields will improve;

1940 – Sow more tobacco seeds and set out more plants since tobacco is becoming a big money crop; 

1944 – Pray every day that my son Puzie (Bud) will return safely from serving in World War II;

1946 – Open a grocery store and filling station so we will have staples like bread, milk and hoop cheese on hand and own a gas pump to provide fuel for trucks on the farm and those owned by neighbors;

1948 – Thank God every day that my grandchildren, Jimmy and Carolyn, have recovered from polio; 

1952 – Hope that my wife Verta will get better because I just can’t live without her (she died of hardening of the arteries that year).

Such reflections would make one wonder what was good about these challenging times. When folks refer to the “good ole days,” perhaps they are talking about a time when people lived by the Good Book and followed its guidance in the spirit and letter of the law. Some people may think these years were good because they demanded a high level of integrity and a lot of generosity — folks honored the Golden Rule and neighbors shared with neighbors. Everyone’s garden was open to the community. When someone killed hogs, others were welcome to stop by or some chitlins, tenderloin and sausage. 

Even though New Year celebrations became popular in the colonies long ago, such highfalutin notions didn’t set well with country folks living on small farms. The emphasis was simple: feeding families, neighbors and animals, which called for long hours and constant chores related to increasing garden pickin’s and improving crop yields.

Come to think of it, the same steps involved in sowing seeds and preparing for the harvest are similar to the principles of achieving goals. The tried-and-true strategies for thriving on a farm are practiced in today’s society by many successful people —  hard work, soft hearts and steady faith always win out in the end. 

As I compile my New Year resolutions each year, I think back to the lessons I learned on the farm. I can state them simply: Focus on doing day-by-day what it takes to guarantee a harvest — sow healthy seeds, nourish them, fertilize the plants, get rid of the weeds, reap the rewards and allow the crop to go to seed.

Whether it’s a plant or a child or a mate or a job, life’s rules are about the same: give a lot, forgive a lot, love a lot, laugh a lot and expect the best from yourself and others. 

Grandpa said that after many years of hard times during the Depression and two world wars, most farms finally prospered, families survived and even began to thrive. He called it the good life, and who am I to doubt Grandpa’s words of wisdom?

As Grandpa would say: “Have a good one.”

AlexSandra Lett is a professional speaker and the author of “Natural Living, From Stress to Rest;” “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store;” “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart;” “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures;” and “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit.” Lett can be reached at (919) 258-9299 or LettsSetaSpell@aol.com.