Thursday, May 1, 2008

Neat Pantries and Tidy Linen Closets

Those who know me well are aware of my magazine obsession.  You cannot visit any room in my house without finding at least one glossy cover sitting on a side table or in a basket on the floor or stacked on a shelf.  My most favorite are the magazines devoted to the home.  I love them.  Magazines like Cottage Living and Domino and, yes, the bible of them all, Martha Stewart Living.

The ever growing popularity of these publications points to the reality that though women have largely left the housewife role of the 1950's, they haven't left their homes.  In fact, we probably have at least as much information on running a tight ship on the homestead than our predecessors did.  

I was pondering this while reading an article by Cynthia Kling, a staff writer for Domino magazine.  In this installment, Ms. Kling was commissioned to investigate the super organization of the very wealthy.  After peeking into pantries and sideboards (I long for a sideboard), she created a short list, "how to run a perfect household (sans staff)" including suggestions to make a home bible, label the linen closet, and choose signature colors.  

While reading, I was already compiling my home bible in my head, and making my grocery list for the perfect pantry.  "I want one of those homes," I thought.  "The kind where I can host 20 people or throw a birthday party in no time flat."  Ahh...the aspirations of the traditional housewife were alive an well.  

But...and this is a big but...there is something I find wanting from all of this household instruction floating around in the magazines these days.  Yes, running an effective and efficient home is important.  But perhaps like the traditional housewives who eventually asked, "is this all there is?" I have to question likewise.  How does a neat pantry and a tidy linen closet address the greater issues happening in the world today?  Sure, I might be able to host a spontaneous tea party for twelve, but will my guests and I be engaged enough in world affairs to discuss them over said tea?  Will time spent in the pantry steal from time spent in the community?

The truth is that being home more, as I am now, affords me greater time to organize my linen closet, and actually spring clean (although have I done it yet?  No.).  But it also allows me more time to read the news, meet my neighbors, grow a garden, volunteer, etc.  So while I might make a "home bible" listing all the yearly chores that need to be done (we'll see if they actually do get done), I might also make a list of ways to serve my neighbors and organizations in the community that need some help.

Because in my view, being a "housewife" (again, for lack of a better word) does not mean that the house is "it."  I'm sure we'll talk a lot more about this in days to come.

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