Thursday, October 4, 2007

What is Nostalgic Homemaking?

Everyone thinks they know what homemaking is all about. And to some extent, we do. But before we go too far into exploring Nostalgic Homemaking, here is my definition of these words. To be a “homemaker” isn’t the same thing as “housekeeper” or “housewife” or any other variations that start with “house”. I’m convinced there is a big difference between a house and a home. Lots of people have houses – whether they are houses, apartments, condos or cabins. Houses are places where we store our stuff, where we sleep, where we bathe and sometimes eat. Houses keep us dry. Homes, on the other hand, do all that but much more. A home is a refuge from the world. Homes shelter us, nurture us, feed us and warm us. Homes entertain us and our friends, celebrating holidays and sleepy Sundays. Homes are “sweet” and there is “no place like” them. Home “is where the heart is” and be they “ever so humble” there truly is no place like them. But homes don’t happen by themselves. Someone has to make a house into a home.

Now for the “nostalgic” part of the definition. Nostalgia is a fond view of a past time. That doesn’t mean that the past actually was as we imagine it. Usually, it wasn’t nearly as picturesque or as simple. But to view something nostalgically is to look on it with fondness (if not accuracy) and a wish to return to whatever it is that we appreciate about it. For me, I look with fondness on the years when homemaking was an established part of life. Don’t get me wrong, I am feminist through and through and I’m fully aware that women bore the brunt of making the home and were often denied opportunities to work outside of it. But as with any nostalgia, I am fond of the idea that a home is a sanctuary for the family. I wax poetic about women who baked their own bread, knew how to make cakes from scratch, put up jars of jelly and preserves, embroider tablecloths and knit baby booties. I am nostalgic for an era that is gone and is only recalled through the fuzzy memory of history.

So then, “nostalgic homemaking” as I define it, means creating a home through the tried and true methods of the past. Recognizing that baking bread isn’t the easiest way to get your carbs but the act of doing so helps to make your house more homey (what smells better than baking bread?). Cooking a meal from scratch for your family is more than just the sum of its food parts. It shows that you love your family and take pleasure in preparing a meal for everyone to enjoy together. The energy you spend in preparing that apple pie is returned to you as you all enjoy a slice together and talk about things that matter to you. Slowing down, even if only one day a week, helps to give meaning to your days and your environment. Your home will take on a new ambience and will feel warmer, cozier to you and your family, even if nothing is said about the cookies in the jar or the new tablerunner. The work really is its own reward, which is a good thing because as we all know it is never ending.