Thursday, November 17, 2011

Colonial Women

The women of Colonial times have always fascinated me.  I love reading about all of the things that they could do, would do, and happily did as homemakers.  Their tasks were greater, more time-consuming and often times more difficult than they are today, and yet, the women that I read about where happy and contented.  They were blessed to be doing the job that God had given them to do.  (Before the feminist movement.) They didn’t have the money to hire a maid and a nanny and a cook to do their job for them, or a government to feed their family.  If they didn’t work diligently in the home, the family would not thrive.  We have much to learn from these women, don’t we?!  
Recently I finished a book called “Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.”  In a few words, I was extremely very impressed with it and the points that the authors brought to light.  Here is one of the passages that I enjoyed:

Woman’s Life in Colonial Days By Carl Holiday 1922
“There is decided tendency among modern housewives to take a hostile view of the ever recurring task of preparing food for the family; but if these housewives were compelled suddenly to revert to the method and mount of cooking of colonial days, there would be universal rebellion…
We must remember…that the greater part of all food consumed in a family was prepared through it’s every stage by that family.  No factory-canned goods, no ready-to-warm soups, no evaporated fruits, no potted meats stood upon the grocer’s shelves as a very present help in time of need.  On the farm or plantation and even in the smaller towns the meat was raised, slaughtered and cured at home, the wheat, oats, and corn grown, threshed and frequently made into flour and meal by the family, the fruit dried or preserved by the housewife…
And yet with such cumbersome utensils, the good wives of all the colonies prepared meals that would drive the modern cook to distraction…To be a housewife in colonial days evidently required the strength of Hercules, the skill of Tubal Cain, and the patience of Job.”  

So what’s our excuse?  We complain that it takes so much time to prepare meals, yet we have freezers, food processors, electric beaters, and stoves.  We sigh over the mounds of laundry that never seem to end, yet we don’t have to boil a cauldron of water, scald our hands to scrub the clothes, then squeeze out the excess liquid by hand before hanging everything to dry.  We don’t have to heat heavy irons on a hot stove or make homemade starch for shirts and colors, either.  Oh and don’t forget that the colonial women who did this were hospitable women, constantly welcoming people into their homes and making meals stretch to fit them all.”  

I find myself thinking about the economy and wondering how long it will take America to be essentially “starting from scratch.”  I think it’s exciting. :-) Call me crazy, but I sort of like the idea of heating irons on the stove and boiling water for washing clothes.  At least, I know that I could MAKE myself enjoy it if that sort of primitive lifestyle became a reality someday.  I wouldn’t have any reason to complain about not having enough time for this, because I read my history and see that women have cooked meals over campfires and have sewn the family’s clothes together (by hand!)  for centuries.  Before computers. And Blogs. And Facebook. And Twitter.  And Texting.  And ______________. (fill in the blank with your social networking addiction) Funny coming from me, who posts something every couple days, I know. :-)  But it’s been interesting for me to note that the only reason I have time for blogging right now, is because of all the handy-dandy new inventions that make life easier and less time-consuming. And don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for (some of) those gadgets.  But in a way, as much as a person might have a stroke at the thought of not having every modern gadget and do-hicky, very little of those things are essential to your well-being, and blogging definitely isn’t as good a use of my time as washing the family’s laundry if it must be done by hand.  It’s all a matter of one’s priorities, methinks.  I think I should have been born in the 1700’s, but that was not God’s plan…so I’m perfectly ok with that :) 

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  

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