Who knows why this phrase popped into my head – I mean, yes my microwave oven died last night – but replacing it shouldn’t really have anything to do with keeping up with the neighbors or anyone else: I simply need to find the same one again as I really liked this and it was perfect for my life. So, of course, I will find that 5 years later that model is no longer existent and I’ll have to find something else. But still, I digress so back to the original phrase.
My take on this is not the usual one, which was reflected in the Keeping up with the Joneses comic strip that ran in many U.S. newspapers from 1914 to 1958 by Arthur R. (Pop) Morand. The strip chronicled his experiences living in suburbia and the way we tend to measure our worth by what others have or don’t have.
No, I got to thinking about all those lovely friends and acquaintances with whom we would like to “keep up” in the sense of keeping in touch with them. Maintaining relationships on the familial level takes work, something of which we are more or less aware: however, how many of us realize that it is also up to us to take that step that keeps us in touch with our friends, be they close or only casual acquaintances.
I have people whom I touch base with perhaps only once or twice a year; others where we (due to distance) only have an e-mail relationship (which in turn can vary from once a year to once a month, to sporadic); yet others (the old car-pool group) where we make an effort to get together once a month throughout the school year, although the children that we car-pooled back then are long gone from home, many with families of their own; then there are the closer circles, some of sporadic meetings, others more regular; getting even closer there are the few that one tries to see once a week.
Be they old, medium or of short duration, all these relationships are worth keeping up with as they are the true pleasure of life; they are the frosting on the cake, the butter in the spinach as the French would say.
So I’ll keep on trying to keep up with not only the Joneses (actually don’t know any) but also the Smith’s, the Muller’s, the Mayers or Meiers, the Jeannerets(none of whom are actually known to me) and all my other friends, far or near, young or old, new or from many years.