My grandparents–members of the “Greatest Generation”–lived modestly. They grew most of their own fruits and vegetables, rarely dined at restaurants, never had a dishwasher, and only much later in life did they have such necessities (by today’s standards) as a microwave and central heating and air conditioning.
But one luxury they did afford themselves was a National Geographic magazine subscription. I can still see rows and rows and rows of the familiar yellow spine lining the bookshelf, with each issue in near pristine condition despite being read cover to cover.
Visiting them was a treat because I looked forward to leaning back in the recliner and thumbing through the latest reading material–the Sunday newspaper (always) and the latest issue of National Geographic. A curious child, I always felt much older than my years, getting lost in stories aimed at grown-ups about people and places far away or topics I couldn’t yet fully grasp.
Despite my fascination with the magazine, I never had a subscription of my own. Maybe I, too, regarded it as a luxury. Maybe life just got too busy, what with homework and boys and girlfriends and plans for the future. But no matter how hectic my schedule got, there was always that recliner in my grandparents’ modest home that I could count on to curl up in with the latest National Geographic issue.
They’ve both long since passed, I can’t remember if the recliner was sold or donated and those old copies have been thrown away or recycled. I’ve often thought about rekindling my relationship with National Geographic, and now would be a good time. And at the current deal of only $15 for a year’s subscription, I’m sure that would even make my grandparents proud.