Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Vintage Housewife

In my online searches for unique Christmas presents...I've come across some beautiful vintage pieces that I just adore. There's something appealing about a simple vintage apron and a classic milk glass cake stand. It got me thinking about the items that I am finding so charming and joyful and what they represented from the time that they originated. Although, I find a cake stand charming to put on a shelf there was a time when the cake stand had a cake on it, and the apron was worn daily. I did some research about the "50's Housewife" and realized that I'm not alone in my attraction towards this era. I've heard many of my close friends say that they wish they had been a housewife during this time. What is it that makes us long to be a "vintage housewife"? I think it represents a simpler time for women because there was less to juggle. Women today are expected to work, take care of children, the household and husband. When I imagine my life as a vintage housewife I have visions of polka dot aprons and jello molds and "Hi...honey I'm home..." Images of this 50's housewife show her as a domestic goddess in which she is always smiling, husband standing proud and well taken care of, children in smocked dresses that obeyed, house smelling of cake made from scratch. There were litte choices for her to decide upon besides...pot roast or tuna casserole. She wears pearls while baking and spends her free time getting her hair set in curlers. She sews, she knits, she gardens.

photocredit from top left: 1. vintage milk glass 2. white and green 3. vintage milk glass buffet 4. polka dot

So in my research to find out what exactly was the role of the 50's housewife I came across some rules. Here's a few points from the "Good Housewives Guide" from housekeeping monthly 1955:

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Okay, so maybe it's true that my husband does like it when I'm a bit "gay" when he gets home, ...however maybe it is for the best that a woman's role has evolved since 1955. There's nothing wrong with donning a charming apron if it makes you happy or admiring a few vintage cake stands on your shelf. You can still hold your feminist values and still find joy from baking up a great heirloom recipe from scratch or taking pride in your home by ironing your pillow cases or setting a beautiful table. It is nice that in todays world we actually have the choice to "play" housewife when we are feeling like it and go through the drive-thru when we don't. Yes, it's easier when we have less choices but we are blessed to have them. The 50's housewife would have delighted in the microwave and frozen entrees, it would have made her job of having dinner ready and then being " a little gay and a little more interesting for him" a whole lot easier. However, let us not forget the simple pleasures that come from stepping in the vintage housewives shoes every once in a while.

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