Thanksgiving was last week. (Not that I was thinking anyone missed it.) We had a blast. We drove up to NC to spend time with my family Two days, including the actual holiday, with my mother and her husband (Grandma and Papa Foy). Two days with my dad and his wife (Grandpa and Na-na). (I’m glad my wife’s parents are Japanese. My sons use the Japanese terms for grandma and grandpa. I would have had difficulty coming up with separate names for them otherwise.) Whichever set of grandparents it is, my boys enjoy being with them.
However, the start and end of the trip provided an interesting commentary that I hadn’t expected. On Wednesday, we met Grandma and Papa Foy at Old Salem, an historic community of shops (like a miniature Williamsburg) that demonstrates how people lived in the 18th and 19th century. The community, founded by the Moravian church, is located in Winston-Salem, NC. People take you through tours of explanations of old bakeries, gun shops, shoemakers, tinsmiths, etc. as well as living and worship spaces for the townsfolk. My sons enjoyed the gun shops. (They’re boys. It’s to be expected.) They also enjoyed a Toy Museum exhibit.
One of the facts I found interesting was that, at Old Salem, they alternate days between the 18th and 19th century. We’d showed up on 19th century day. This meant that a lot of the 18th century style shops were closed. Old Salem used to run both types every day, but budgeting and the economy had forced the community to cut back. Some people did double up. The shoemaker was also the potter. The tinsmith switched operated both days and just switched the equipment he could use. Overall, though, the interesting little place was half-staffed and would remain that way for the immediate future.
Though I thought the situation sad, I didn’t think much else of it. We celebrated with a big group on Thanksgiving day at my mothers, went to my father’s on Friday, and then went shopping on Saturday with my wife while my kids enjoyed a movie with Grandpa and Na-na.
On Sunday, we packed for home. We left mid-morning, as we were afraid of traffic slowing us down. It had before. We expected it. And while we did run into spots of traffic, the overall traffic volume was lower than I remember in previous years. Were we lucky? I don’t know.
However, those musings were overshadowed by all the similar-looking signs I noticed while traveling south on I-85. How were they similar? They all had a number to call, if you were interesting in leasing the space.
So, a nice family vacation, bracketed by little signs of weakness in the economy. And I as considered my own situation, I realized one thing.
I have a lot to be thankful for.