Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Love Affair the Apron

Okay, I'm comin' clean, out in the open with it as they say. I love aprons! Phew, that felt good to get off my chest. I know, I know, we modern women are not supposed to admit to liking anything remotely resembling domestication. We are supposed to baulk and feign offensiveness at the very suggestion we dare find any enjoyment or satisfaction from being a simple housewife. So instead we secretly purchase those cute little aprons we see popping up everywhere nowadays and then drive immediately home to a flood of remorse. The flirtiness we felt upon purchasing the apron replaced by shame for absurdly fantasizing about looking like a wife and or mother. Instead, to fill the genetic void we take gourmet cooking classes and call ourselves foodies, somehow justifying the distinctive difference between being enlightened and being a homemaker. Give me a break. Stand up and wear your aprons proudly ladies and do it with panache. Now go into your kitchen and create something from scratch, and no, that is not something that is premixed in a box. Open a recipe book and cook. You will feel liberation like nothing the feminist movement has done for you in years. Speaking of, this may come as a shock to you but I do infact consider myself a feminist - although not in the tradition sense I'll admit. I'm all for equal opportunity and equal pay, and with that comes the equality of choosing to wear an apron if I so want to. Aprons have a rich tradition in our country. When immigrants flooded to the shores of Ellis Island, bringing with them their familial foods, skills and values, they also brought their aprons. These however were not the more modern froo-froo apron (which look so darn cute don't ya think?) but instead fuller length styles meant to be part of their daily work uniform, giving women something to protect their seldom laundered dresses from the grim residue of forging a new live for themselves in the land of the free. More like a pinafore, these usually all white cotton aprons saw women through the early morning meals, daily chores, lunch and evening cooking, then bathing and putting the children to bed before sitting down near an oil lamp to do some mending. The next day they would be washed and hung out to bleach their whites bright in the warm rays of the sun. The aprons then moved out west and were right their on the frontiers with all the homesteading women. Cooking meals, making candles, teaching children, collecting eggs, hoeing gardens, neading bread, sewing dresses from flour sacks and when necessary, slinging the hefty weight of a rifle over the window sill to ward off the threat of attack. Like a child's security blanket, the aprons was a women's armour against the rough and rugged countryside she had chosen to create a family life out of. Fast forward to the WWII, as the men were off fighting in Europe, the women went to work during the years between 1939 and 1945. As part of the war effort they worked in factories making weapons and other military supplies in support of their beloved husbands and sons overseas. Since this was a time in our country when citizens understood the importance of putting something bigger than themselves first, foregone were aprons made from new fabrics fashioned instead from old shirts, dresses and flower sacks, often adding an embroidery of whimsy to brighten the day and help ease the fears that lurked in every womens minds during that time. How proud it makes me as a women knowing the role my grandmother and other's like her played in doing their part for their family and country. Days were driven forward in the hopes of a peaceful rest ahead, and sure enough as the sun did get up and shine each morning, the fifties were upon us. During the nineteen-fifties and early sixties the apron was in its heyday. Women of all ages from young school girls to newlyweds and women of season donned their aprons, and proudly so. Girls made them in home economic classes, wives sewed them from fun and fanciful fabrics and grandmothers bequeathed them to the next generation. There was an apron for all imaginable applications back then. Aprons for everyday of the week, for cooking, cleaning, for each individual holiday, and how could we possibly forget the ever stylish entertaining apron. Made from organza and silk these were the peacock feathers in every women's apron arsenal. From June Cleaver to Lucille Ball, thanks to television the image of a domesticated diva will always be embodied with an apron. At card parties, backyard bar-be-ques and potluck dinners, guests were greeted by the lady of the house wearing only her most delicate and feminine aprons. Then we women became "liberated." Off went the aprons, donated to Good Will or repurposed as a shop rag our husband used to change the car's oil. Women finally went to work (as if they hadn't been working at home before ) and the apron became extinct. And so there the art of household domestication sat, frozen and pushed to the back of the freezer. Aprons became a symbol of an antiquated time, when women were nothing more than homemakers. Nothing more indeed. And yet, home management careers cropped up as a source for running the household in someone elses home. Somehow it became permissive to clean and cook for others as long as you were getting paid for it, but don't dare do it for your own family, then you were being submissive. Well, thank goodness a thaw has begun, aprons once again are becoming chic and in vogue. Now sexy, feminine and thanks to places like Williams-Sonoma, delightfully practical aprons are cropping up in department stores and specialty boutiques alike. An entirely new generation of women are discovering the apron for the first time. Bravo I say. I wear my apron proudly just as I did my United States Air Force Uniform. When once I served my country with pride, I am now blessed to serve my family. The quality of home life, I believe, is equal to the quality of love and selflessness we offer. It is not an act of submissiveness or inequality to take care of ones home and family, it is an act of love and appreciation. So ladies pull your aprons out from the back of the drawer and feel confident in your domestic abilities, even if you are only just now beginning this journey, that's what I'm here for. We'll fumble and find our way together. And just in case you do not have an apron, today is your lucky day my friend. I've come across a vintage apron pattern that I'm going to attempt to make. (I say attempt because the directions of vintage patterns are usually less detailed then our modern counterparts.) In the next few days you can follow me as I resurrect the exact apron a wife somewhere in this country decades ago wore as she greeted her husband warmly with a martini in hand when he walked through the door after a long days work. Effortless, graceful and ladylike. (Note: Thank you to everyone who has shared with me how much they have enjoyed reading my blog. Please feel free to pass along to anyone who you think might enjoy. Simply send them to the link and they can sign up to receive my blog as well as comment. Hugs and Kisses Darlings...)

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Oh I'm so happy you checked out my blog. I absolutely love hearing from each and every one of you - it truely makes my day! Jamie