When I daydream I tend to be rather nostalgic. I create in my mind an essence of a romantic atmosphere and wish that I could somehow be part of that moment in time, yet that time never really existed. For example I was standing in front of our house the other night while it was snowing heavily. The house, the Christmas lights, the snow and ice topping the roof peaks like icing on a cake…looked fantastic. It gave me a warm feeling inside. It reminded me of a postcard sans the young couple that would have just pulled up in the horse drawn sleigh. My mind wandered back to a time when things were easier, when things were quieter, more peaceful. For a moment I could imagine all of the lights morphing into candles and a sudden gust of wind carried a whiff of smoke from the neighbour’s woodstove my way. Very romantic, almost picture perfect…the way that it used to be…
That is the essence of nostalgia. It is in fact a self-made perception of the way we would like to think things were. Movies are great at generating this sense of yearning for the past, yearning for a time that never existed at all. History is a factual recollection of past events whereas nostalgia nostalgia describes a longing for the past, often in a highly idealized form. Look at movies from the 50’s where everyone wore a leather jacket, had a souped-up car and drank excessively or the 60’s when everyone was doing drugs and free love was the order of the day. The movies capitalize on generalizations (on nostalgia) rather than fact. Not everyone in those periods of time were doing what we “imagine” they were doing. I mentioned to my dad once that I was jealous of the fact that he grew up in the 60’s when “you could have sex with anyone”. He laughed. “Not where I came from!”
We have a Victorian reproduction home, complete with wraparound porch. It is only ten years old but it has the “look” of a house from the turn of the century. We have capitalized on the ideology of the “old house” by adorning the porch with Gingerbread trim, purchasing some select antiques and recently have started to replace the original ceiling lights with antique fixtures. This ultimately creates an “old-fashioned” atmosphere and can take an occupant or visitor “back in time” to a more “peaceful” time.
In my dreams I think I would love to attend that point in time that we try and reproduce, but the real truth is I would not. The warm feeling I get is from standing in the here and now and looking back at a romantic “vision”, not at historic reality. It is a fantasy and nothing more; by adding props such as antiques the fantasy becomes more realistic. I will never be going out to buy a horse and carriage nor will I be dressing in period clothing, but there is a good chance that when I can I will continue to decorate our house in keeping with a time in history…that only exists in my mind.