What we can learn from the Walton Family?

by Darryl E. Owens, from OrlandoSentinel.com

With the stock market shedding value like gossip-rag celebutantes shed clothes, I'm sure all my 401(k) will afford me in retirement is a Starbucks frappuccino. Small, please.

In my misery, there's plenty of company. Take my fellow baby boomers -- the 57.8 million of us who census projections suggest will be around in 2030, when the youngest would be 66. Right now, boomers aren't bullish on our wallets.

As a recent Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey noted, "most boomers have children to worry about, and most have at least one living parent. Three-quarters are homeowners, at a time when home values are stagnant and the mortgage crisis is heating up. Boomers are edging toward retirement, which potentially means living on a fixed income.

"Two in three boomers said getting ahead is tougher now than a decade ago. Investment gurus say the stock market is for building wealth in the long run. After the past several volatile weeks, I've all but resigned myself that in the long run, retirement will mean polishing my greeting skills and donning a blue Walmart vest. Retirement, schma-tirement.

Needing an emotional balm to coax me from the ledge, and not satisfied with the wisdom from our leaders on high, my thoughts revisited the mountaintop: Walton's Mountain, to be exact -- home to the Depression-era family of the long-running '70s series The Waltons.

The Waltons were fictional, but the Hamners of Schuyler, Va., were real enough, inspiring Earl Hamner Jr., the eldest of Earl and Doris Gianinni Hamner's eight kids, to pen The Homecoming, a novella that inspired the TV series.

Feast or famine, the Waltons persevered. Sure it was scripted, but were there lessons to be learned?

On her front porch two decades ago, Doris Hamner shared the family's secret with Dwight Bain, who attended college about 40 miles away in Lynchburg, Va., and today is a Winter Park licensed mental-health counselor:

*Know what you believe: "Because she was rock solid about what she believed, and passed that faith along to her children, they could face any adversity with the courage of knowing that God would see them through. That faith gave light to carry the real Walton family through some of the darkest days our country has ever faced."

*Do everything together: "The real Waltons did chores together, they prepared meals together, they worshipped together, laughed, cried and said goodnight together. No matter what they faced, they never faced it alone."

*Keep positive: "They praised and encouraged one another in the process instead of attacking it as being a dumb idea. Earl Hamner Jr. had the full support of his entire family as he began to write articles for the local paper as a teenager. Because he received praise to press on toward his dreams, a television series has inspired millions to do the same."

The Hamners weren't guarding any secret to thriving in tough times.
"We just did everything together," Doris Hamner told Bain.

The Waltons embodied what the Hamners lived: Strength and assurance drawn from bedrock family bonds is the best bailout plan when it comes to riding out stormy seasons.

"Who knows," Bain says, "perhaps it may also lead to a future generation hearing the simple stories of how your family grew stronger during the stress. [That] would make Doris Hamner very, very proud."

Darryl E. Owens can be reached at dowens@orlandosentinel.com
original source: orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/orl-dowens-101808,0,5766084.column

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