As a modern woman writing in modern times about contemporary characters and colonial home crafts, it’s no surprise that I have a fascination with the concept of nostalgia. It’s probably the primary drive behind my interest in old-fashioned skills and domesticity.
Nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be. Originally it was a medical diagnosis closely related to melancholy, and the word comes from two Greek terms meaning “returning home” and “ache”. It was, in essence, a kind of homesickness.
Now the definition has become tricky; ask different people and you’ll receive differing responses. Some say nostalgia describes the feeling you get when remembering something from your past. Others say it’s more of a yearning for the past. I’ve also heard nostalgia described as a memory triggered by the senses, especially the sense of smell.
However you define it, I know the feeling. It is indeed a kind of ache. But to me it’s a yearning for something in the past that we never had in the first place. An ideal. An impossibility.
How do you define nostalgia? What do you feel nostalgic about?