For years, my mom has talked about owning her own Singer sewing machine. She recalls some of her earliest memories of sitting on her mother’s lap as a youngster, watching the treadle bob up and down, wheels spinning, needle stitching. A treadle sewing machine, if you’ve never experienced one, is foot powered. A simple pedal, or treadle, when pumped by foot in rhythm, turns a belt that turns a wheel that allows the needle to stitch. (I apologize for my basic description for all you longtime treadle users, but you get the idea.) Probably the most well-known of these sewing machines are those produced by Singer Manufacturing Company, or a variation of the Singer name.
Dad recently came across a gorgeous, old Singer sewing machine. It was left in an estate sale of a well-known woman in town. She lived to see 88 full years and at some point during her years, her mother passed down this Singer to her. Dad inquired about and inspected this machine. All sewing parts seemed to be in good working order, except for a spent leather belt, and the wooden desktop and drawers seem to be in good condition, albeit they could use a little oil.
When mom unveiled it Christmas morning, she was struck. She inspected it from top to bottom, opening the drawers, admiring the ornate designs of this particular model (Model 127 aka The Singer Sphinx). Dad smiled and knew he made the right decision.
Of course, we all know the expensive presents, the Black Friday shopping, the ‘gotta-have’ gifts is not what Christmas is about. My parents understand that, but they do enjoy getting gifts for the family that have real use and aren’t wallet-busters.
The Singer sewing machine is a perfect example.
Mom’s “new” treadle sewing machine was made in September of 1917 in Elizabeth, New Jersey (surprisingly, you can research that rather easily with the serial number). The machine has not sat idle, but shows the signs of use and also of care. The drawers contain bits and pieces of fabric, labels, pins and other assorted pieces. Although she didn’t sit down and stitch a quilt on Christmas morn, mom has plans for her Singer to get back to work and not merely collect dust. It will add beauty to the house and will be much quieter than today’s electric sewing machines.
This got me thinking: How many iPods are going to be in good working condition in the year 2105? (Remember: mom’s “new” Singer is 94 years old.) We could look at the most popular advertisements from this past holiday season, Consumer Reports, shelves of any mega-box store, or a variety of other places and find very few things being sold today that we can genuinely imagine lasting 94 years or more.
Even now that I’m in my mid-twenties, I still learn lessons on Christmas morning. The lessons used to be about giving, sharing and loving neighbors, or at least cousins. This year, the lesson I learned was to live with less. As retail stores want us to believe the Christmas season, and every other season, is becoming more and more about, well, more and more, may we find ways for it to be about less and less. May we consume less and consume better.
(originally published at the Creation Care blog of the Evangelical Environmental Network – Thank you Tyler!)