Podcast Episode 31: Where Do We Go From Here?
As 2020 draws to a close, Jennifer discusses what the new year holds for A Sparkling Vintage Life.
If you prefer to read rather than listen, scroll below to find the transcription.
TRANSCRIPTION FOR EPISODE 31: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Welcome to A Sparkling Vintage Life, where we celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era. I’m your host, Jenny Leo, and this is Episode #31.
It’s a few days after Christmas 2020 as I record this, and I apologize for being silent for most of the fall. A big piece of my silence had to do with finishing my next novel, The Rose Keeper, which absorbed nearly every creative morsel of my brain for the entirety of the fall. But it’s in production now, and should be ready for release in March 2021.
And then it was the holidays, and now, here we are, just a few days shy of New Year’s Eve. It seems cliché to marvel, “Where did the time go?” but there it is.
But the other piece of my silence had a deeper, more philosophical, and frankly more troubling reason. Like all of you, I found 2020 to be an enormous challenge. While social distancing and the stay-at-home mandates that were and are being imposed by our government during the pandemic did give me plenty of time and quiet space to work on the podcast, I found myself lacking the emotional and mental bandwidth to do so. Suddenly in the face of not only the pandemic, but so much political unrest, the drama and uncertainty surrounding the presidential elections here in the U.S., so many people thrown out of work and children kept home from school and everyone’s lives completely upended, I found myself weirdly unmotivated to sit down and compose even a simple episode about some arcane aspect of table etiquette or vintage jewelry. It seemed frivolous, somehow, to keep talking about these lighthearted topics in the face of so much bad news.
And yet, I couldn’t quite let the podcast go, either. It nagged at the edges of my mind. So I’ve taken some time at year’s end to reflect on some questions. What do I want A Sparkling Vintage Life to be? And what do you, dear listener, want it to be? What is our shared vision for this podcast and this community? What on earth I can offer to you that will add value to your life, that you’ll need and want to hear?
I went back to my original plan for A Sparkling Vintage Life. Thirty episodes ago, I saw the podcast as a way to encourage women who appreciate tradition and nostalgia and wish to bring back at least some of the old-fashioned ways of doing things and preserve a way of life that is quickly vanishing. I wanted to share what I’ve learned about past ways of life. As an author of historical fiction, I do a lot of research on the past, and wanted to share the interesting tidbits, tips, and tricks I’ve picked up along the way. I wanted to suggest ways to incorporate appealing elements of the past into to a modern woman’s busy life. I still want to do all those things.
But now I feel a renewed sense of purpose that goes even deeper than that. I believe there are forces at work, strong forces, that want to erase the past entirely and rewrite it to suit a different narrative. And to that, I need to push back.
I’ve said several times that this is not a “religious” podcast, per se, and I’m sticking to that. I’m not a biblical or theological scholar, and I’m not going to lead you in a Bible study or a sermon. And yet my daily life is so deeply intertwined with my faith in Jesus Christ that I find it quite impossible to separate the two. My beliefs are foundational to all that I think and do. So while I’m not going to preach to you, I am going to be less shy about sharing aspects of my faith going forward. After all, no doubt I’d share these aspects in any normal, heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend. And I consider you, my loyal listeners, as good friends.
This has also never been, and will continue to never be, a political podcast. There are scads of podcasts out there that handle political topics. I want A Sparkling Vintage Life to be a sanctuary from all that, a safe place where you can come and find a quiet respite from the screeching and squawking going on outside our parlor windows. That said, I occasionally come under fire from listeners who equate all “vintage values” with things we would never accept today. For example, some proponents of vintage style draw a clear distinction between vintage style and vintage values. I understand where they’re coming from. They don’t want to promote outdated concepts that were widely accepted years ago, for example, the blatant racism of the Jim Crow era. Well, I certainly don’t want to do that, either. But to equate all things vintage with the gross injustices of the past would be equally closed-minded. Racism was wrong in the past and it’s wrong today. A Sparkling Vintage Life is about preserving and uplifting the best of the past, not everything of the past. Just as we can’t, nor would we want to, return to a world of hoop skirts, no antibiotics, and no air conditioning, neither would we revert to denying people full legal and economic rights. Admiring a cameo pin or a pearl necklace is not the same thing as advocating for separate drinking fountains. That’s ludicrous. Instead, our goal here at A Sparkling Vintage Life is to dust off some good values that may have grown musty from disuse. Values like honor. Duty. Loyalty. These kinds of values know no color.
A true Sparkling Vintage Life is neither elitist nor divisive. In fact, we promote things like common courtesy, which is the polar opposite of elitist or divisive. Treating one other with courtesy and kindness, no matter who we are, helps establish a strong sense of community and lubricates social interactions among people of many different ethnicities. It helps us all get along. And isn’t that a worthy goal, really?
I found a paragraph in the introduction to Linda S. Lichter’s book, Simple Social Graces, that pretty much sums up how I feel about A Sparkling Vintage Life. Writing in 1998, Lichter says, “America is hurting. We are rich in goods but poor in spirit. Public life is splintered, crude, and violent. Too many private lives are a shambles of broken relationships, broken homes, and stressed-out, time-squeezed families. We search frantically for quick fixes to fill a deep internal void that we struggle to describe. The answer lies neither in sixties-style government programs nor fifties nostalgia, and certainly not in accumulating more high-tech toys. To continue buying the constantly recycled versions of these solutions is to invest in damaged goods.” Lichter goes on to look to the Victorian era to recover more viable solutions. My taste runs to a slightly more recent time period, the early 20th century roughly from World War I through World War II. But the intent is the same: to preserve and restore much of what was valuable in generations past, and to leave the rest behind.
So we’ve talked about what A Sparkling Vintage Life is not. If you’re still with me, let’s talk a minute about what it will be, heading into 2021.
A Sparkling Vintage Life is for you if:
You hunger for an earlier time when more people lived with grace and dignity.
You’re drawn to watching old movies or reading old stories because you enjoy imagining safe, civilized public spaces, stable, intact families, and simple good manners.
You long for the beauty, grace, and charm of an earlier era. You miss some of the quaint customs, traditions and rituals that others might scoff at or ridicule.
If this describes you, then you and I are kindred spirits, and I look forward to discussing many aspects of A Sparkling Vintage Life and continuing to celebrate the grace and charm of an earlier era.
Happy new year.
If you enjoyed listening to this episode, I would greatly appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave a review at Apple Podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. Reviews are a huge help in growing the community and helping other like-minded listeners find us. You can also leave a comment at sparklingvintage life.com, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a brand new social media page on MeWe.com, and I’d love to see you there. I’ll put a link in the show notes.
And I’m looking forward to next time when I’ll be back to discuss another aspect of A Sparkling Vintage Life.