Three meals a day, literally and figuratively. The cure for what ails us.



Today I spent some time reading a 19th century book called, “The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. ” by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

It eloquently describes many housekeeping themes from the 19th century  most of which I am familiar with. They seem trite in todays world, they include topics like,  understanding why there should be a parlour for company and a sitting room for family, reconciling with the tyranny of carpets, the dangers of overcrowding and cluttering in furnishings, window decorations and more.

But I heard a theme today that I had not really considered as of late and that is the home is the center of all that is good and right, “… the best security for civilization is the home, and upon its perpetuity rests the future of the world.” This idea of individual homes that are the center of it all seems lost to history to me. I don’t recall that emphasis in my 52 years on this planet. I can sense a theme in my life of family being very important but somehow that seems a bit different from the ‘home’ emphasis here.

But do not think the author of this book is entirely focused on lace curtains and window boxes, although she does expand a lot on those topics, she extrapolates her idea to say this, “The basis upon which all homes should be founded is good living  and no matter how straitened the circumstances  how little there is to be spent, this can always be secured if housekeepers will begin at the beginning –that is, in the kitchen.”

So then she goes on to explain how three well-planned meals, served at a consistent hour each each day, in an attractive dinning room will lead to family togetherness and harmony. I admit this all appeals to me — especially that is, because it comes from the kitchen. I adore the kitchen and all things food.

I am thoughtfully considering these ideas and comparing them to the modern world today where there seems to be such division, falseness, intolerance and fear. It makes me wonder if three meals a day, at a lovely table would give us all the chance to engage in conversation. The author of the book expresses it thus, “The dinning room out to be the pleasantest place in the house; it is the meeting room where the family are expected to be always present at stated times, and where the events of the day are talked over while the pleasant business of eating is being discussed.”

Of course it is dangerous to look at history with rose-colored glasses. No generation is devoid of strife. But the theme of home and three meals a day, literally and figuratively, as center in our lives and how that might apply in 2017  gives me reason to pause and think and to….that is, digest.

"The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. " by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

“The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. ” by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

12 Responses to “Three meals a day, literally and figuratively. The cure for what ails us.” Comments are currently closed.

  1. Hellen Riebold says:

    It certainly is food for thought. We always had breakfast and dinner at the kitchen table, chatting over the day, right from when children were babes in arms and I think it definitely cemented the idea of love and acceptance within the family, regardless of what was going on outside.

  2. This is a very important reminder. As a 78 year old, I grew up in a world devoid of TV and centered around the people in one’s family. It was a given that we all sat down to the table for dinner together every night. Mother’s job was taking care of the house and family. In days before automatic washing machines, laundry was a very labor-intensive activity and ironing was another whole day of work. Food was cooked from scratch, and you ate what you had preserved along with what was fresh. The family was a working unit and even though people were often unhappy with each other, they stayed together “for better or for worse.”

    Contrast that life style with today’s. All adults in a family need to work to generate the income that buys what we feel we have to have. Some people interact more with their cell phones than with each other. Money is really the driving force behind a lot of what we do. Human values seem to be taking a back seat to material ones. I think this is why your life on the farm is so appealing Susan. You are reflecting and living the old human-based set of values.

    • Susan Odom says:

      Mercy! Hello! Thanks for jumping in. I agree with you what say and I find it especially interesting the point you make that the family does not always get along… that they are in ‘for better for worse’. Part of my limitations are at the root of that, I don’t have too much family here. I do have a really good group of friends who help me. But oh boy If had someone who was part of the household who could really fix stuff, that would be great.

  3. Madeleine says:

    Oh I am loving your posts! Thank you!

  4. Susan och says:

    I saw this book referenced when I was researching the history of suburbia. You have to remember that in 1883, only the privileged few could afford a stand alone home that was not part of a farm; many people lived in apartments or flats. The idea of a tranquil home life to which the working man repaired was a key impetus for the idea of suburbia. Interesting that the first vision of the suburban home included enough land for a garden, fruit trees, and some small livestock. The only foodstuff that the homeowner had to import was grain, straw, and hay.

    • Susan Odom says:

      You make a good point! I’ve been thinking about how these books tout home as the center. But I see a trend today that is calling on us to reach out and reconnect to community. Nearly the opposite of what happened after suburbia took hold. Interesting stuff.

  5. susan gortva says:

    I agree. Thats where it all does begin. thank-you for posting.

  6. Kara Stutzman says:

    What a wonderful read! The part that speaks to me the most is about “well-planned meals.” It seems to me that many of our meals are hastily thrown together in pursuit of speed and completion, rather than thoughtfully nourishing the body and fostering connections with each other. Although I’m loath to forego any of today’s technological advancements, I believe that all of us could use more quality time spent on eating well. Thank you!

    • Susan Odom says:

      Hi Kara, So nice to hear from you. Planning is always good, but I know sometimes life comes at us and we have to through stuff together. But it can be something to strive for. Even for me and I’m a single! I hope you and your family are well.

  7. Sara Caldwell says:

    In today’s world, the family dinner table would save a lot of families Love the excerpt and your insights!