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.