Friday, July 3, 2009

Guiding Light ... Farewell and Thanks for the Picnics

This morning I had the television on while I was working around the house. It was kinda silly from the stand point that I had the volume muted and was enjoying the sounds of a couple of my favorite CDs. Still, the movement of people playing on game shows, the young being restless, and the noontime news accompanied my cleaning and cooking, as I listened to the rock of some favored classics. Afterwards, characters that continue to have the world turning kept me company while I cleaned up and got ready to adventure outside for a while in the afternoon.

Turning off the music and slipping into some shoes, I went to the television to darken its screen when the scene caught my attention and I was helpless to do anything but take a seat and simply watch for a bit.

It was 2pm central time on CBS and The Guiding Light was broadcasting their annual Fourth of July show – a complete hour with the Bauer family and friends and their annual picnic. Even though it has been years since I actually sat and watched this show, it still tugs my heart. This was a program from my earliest memories as a child at home with my mom. After lunch I would “nap” upon the couch as my mom enjoyed her afternoon show while folding clothes or writing letters. As I grew older, I could only see it during school breaks and summer. When I got my first VCR, it was one of the programs I would enjoy taping and watching in those evening hours after work, till time passed and my attention wavered.

Still, each year, the Bauer family Fourth of July picnic always seems to catch my eye, even as it did today.

Today was made even more nostalgic and caused heart to catch as I watched these characters interact … grilling (and burning) the infamous Bauer burgers, playing catch, living and loving as only a soap opera characters can do … many of them characters I remembered growing up with … Bauers, Spauldings, Lewis, Shanes … they were all represented, most of they by the actors and actresses who originated their portrayals.

Today was nostalgic because this is the last one. There will be no more Bauer family picnics.

CBS has cancelled its long running soap and this fall The Guiding Light will be turned off and the stories and characters will become memories to those who remember a different era.

I truly did love The Guiding Light and while some of its stories were a bit fantastic or convoluted, at their heart, the show’s stories were of family. Of faith, belief, and traditions – something that always seems to catch my attention. As the show began to wind down today, they did a series of flashbacks which were wonderful to see, yet they also ended it the way they always did. More than any other program I have ever seen, The Guiding Light was traditional in that they always broadcast a Fourth of July episode, no matter which day of the week the fourth fell on and they always, no matter who was divorcing, loving, in jail, fleeing the country, plotting a murder or takeover or planning a marriage … they ALWAYS had a picnic at the Bauer house.

And the episode always ended with one of the Bauer family members making the annual toast to this great nation and to the family and friends surrounding them.

Rick Bauer, grandson of the original Berta Bauer … the matriarch of the family that came to America to live the American dream … gave the heart stirring toast this year to life and liberty, to those who gave their lives defending this great country and the freedoms we enjoy each day. He gave thanks to God for his grandma and made me cry. Then there was the scene with Reva Shane and her daddy, Hank singing along with The Star Spangled Banner as more flashbacks were shown. It wasn’t perfect or even always in tune, but it was heartfelt and had me singing along as well.

I’m glad that I was home today and that this episode caught my attention. When it comes to the Fourth of July, we often think of the big things … of the American Revolution, of the Declaration of Independence, of the wars fought, the soldiers who have lost their lives defending the freedoms we enjoy each day … and we should, for they are the foundation … the reason for the holiday to even exist. Along with the big things, we find ourselves enjoying the little things … the family get-togethers, the fireworks, the swimming or other activities, the picnics or dinners. These are some of the freedoms this day represents and we should always remember to give thanks for them. I love the fact that this program was one that never ignored this holiday – that celebrated it each year and always remembered to give thanks for those who made it possible.

I realize it’s simply a television program. However, The Guiding Light was, and is, a show about family and life, about traditions and faith. It has been cancelled. It will be missed.

It’s interesting. Isn’t that part of the foundation – the reasoning – behind fighting all these years for the freedoms America represents?





Long may they continue and never be cancelled.