Kate Livingstone: Time to look ahead and not to the past

Were the good old days really better?
Were the good old days really better?

Why is it that when we look back things were always better? Summers were warmer, people were happier and life was much simpler.

Or was it?

It’s that time of year when we’re all inclined to look back, not just reflecting on the year past, but of those no longer with us and the times we all used to enjoy together.

Hogmanay may have changed over the years or at least the traditions have – how many people get a first foot clutching a lump of coal nowadays? But there seems to still be a Scottish trait to get maudlin as the hands of the clock turn to midnight on December 31.

Who can remember their granny getting teary as the bells chimed – and no, the sherry couldn’t always be blamed! But they were the ones with the longest memories and who probably had the most to reminisce over.

But were ‘‘the good old days’’ that the older generation used to talk about really better?

Those happy children who played in the street often used to do so because their homes were so crowded that there was nowhere else they could go.

The homes would also often be cold and damp – and I know that there are still people living in inadequate housing as we approach 2018 but not as many as there once was.

Then there would be the outside toilet. Oh, I remember being taken to visit my mother’s auntie and doing all I could to avoid ‘‘spending a penny’’ as her toilet was outside and was dark and damp.

Many a rush down the path I used to make after returning home to use the comfort of our own bathroom!

Thing was my great-auntie was far from alone and I had classmates at school who had to visit relatives to get a bath on a Sunday night. Now as you step out of your cosy bath or shower, imagine how that must have been.

Perhaps as 2017 draws to a close, instead of looking back we should take a moment to appreciate what we do have.

In my case, two grown-up children who seem to be perfectly happy with their lot, two adorable grandchildren who brighten up my life, a group of really good and loyal friends, a comfortable home, a job ... and the pleasure of writing for Falkirk Herald readers every week.

I’m not a great one for resolutions, but if you’re going to make one this New Year, why not make it to be thankful for what we do have and not always to be thinking of what we don’t.

To each and every one of you, a very happy, peaceful and healthy 2018.