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Martha's big adventure -- I'll do it later - Martha Randolph Carr

There must be something in the air like a fall fever that's the cause of everyone walking around with such a wistful look on their face.

Usually, the crispness in the air and the first days of school stir everyone's blood and cause a new resoluteness to get things done.

But things really have changed in America lately. Everyone seems to be taking more time to notice what's right around them rather than moving furiously forward to create bigger and better.

All of those long hours at work away from family and friends, in order to squirrel away money in an investment account that was supposed to be conservative in the end, largely amounted to lost time. It's hard to go charging ahead after all of that, and that's great news.

So many of us were living in the future, planning for a retirement, or college educations, which are both necessary goals, but striving way too much at the expense of the day at hand.

It all started in the 1980's when a lot of the laws set up during the Great Depression surrounding banking and investing were repealed. Investment opportunities opened up letting in the smaller investor who could watch his money grow faster than ever before. The possibilities of riches seemed to be wide open.

Blue laws that restricted shopping on Sunday in a lot of towns across America were also repealed making it easier to get away from families and friends and spend all of that new loot.

McMansion became a word and tricking out a car or even two till it was more of an accessory became commonplace.

Then, the 1990's welcomed in an internet age and eventually cell phones and it became easier for business to bleed into every part of the day. It wasn't possible anymore to leave the office at five and hide away from the demands of work.

It all seemed like such a good idea at first. Sure, there were commentaries lamenting the end of the family dinner and articles about the new generation of kids who expected way too much. But, every generation hopes to give their kids something better than what they had, and for awhile, it really looked like we finally pulled off that dream.

Boy, did we have it wrong. We gave our children everything but our time, and ended up shortchanging them in what really matters. At some point, way before last year's bust, we all knew we couldn't keep spending like that, but by then, it was too embarrassing to admit and our kids were yammering for more.

We tried to keep up appearances, and for awhile, we did, but the Great Recession yanked down the curtain in front of our tired illusion.

Everything went downhill in such a dramatic fashion and has lasted just long enough that we had to confess our limitations, and thank goodness. All of those sleepless nights trying to figure out how to pay for something we never really needed in the first place are finally over.

It's like we've let out our economic belts and taken the first deep breath in a generation.

Window shopping has become popular again and neighbors are forming book clubs and game nights. Holiday shopping is being scaled back and more families are picking a name out of a hat with a limit of one present per person.

Potluck dinners are on the rise, which makes it easier to invite just one more. A walk has become once again more of a stroll, which makes it easier to say hello to the neighbors.

We are starting to get that we can't take our stuff with us, but we can leave the memories behind. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr is the author of the novel, "The Sitting Sisters." Her column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. She can be found on Twitter at MarthaRandolph, or e-mail at Martha@caglecartoons.com, or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.