On the windowsill above my kitchen sink is a small sign reading, “It’s so good to be home.” I found this sign in a box in the basement a while ago and decided to give it a place of honor upstairs. Though I live as caretaker for my daughter’s house and rattle around in a place much too large for a single person, it’s still home to me.
But I don’t consider myself a homemaker. Oh, I keep the place tidy—well, most of the time—and I mow the lawn and run the garbage to the local dump every two weeks or so, but a homemaker? Naw.
But I do know many homemakers, nearly all of them women, and I think it’s high time we sing their praises. Whether they are working women or stay-at-home moms, whether they are single or married, I am grateful for them. If we break that title in two—home maker—you’ll soon understand why.
In so many arenas, America has become a battleground. For those of us seeking refuge from all this noisy and ugly chaos, the home is the only remaining sanctuary.
Our public square is loud with the clatter and clash of metaphorical swords as we wage our political and cultural wars. Our social media is about as social as a wasp nest. Our schools are a mess, the Wuhan Virus has wrecked everything from small businesses to our sanity, and we can’t agree on the biological definition of sex. Even some of our churches are torn asunder by bickering and bile.
We return from work or school in the evening to the apartment or house where we live. Even if that habitation is bare of most amenities like a comfortable sofa or air-conditioning, we enter the premises as a Neanderthal hunter once entered his cave, reasonably certain of safety from the beasts outside. When we close the door behind us, we say a temporary goodbye to the troubles of the outside world.
But the truly blessed are those who are, or who live with, homemakers.
Home for these creators of beauty is not only a fortress against the hostile forces of the world, but includes a touch of the celestial as well. You step into this home, and the air is fragrant with the scent of a bubbling lasagna or fresh baked apple pie. Often there’s music, soft tunes piped out of some electronic gadget or, even better, songs sung or whistled by the angel who dwells there. There’s a comfortable disorder to the place, a disheveled beauty—a shawl carelessly cast over the back of a chair, books stacked in a corner, bills and magazines piled atop a kitchen island table—that proclaim proprietorship, comfort, and peace.
Here as well we find a décor dependent on the whimsy and critical eye of the homemaker. That yellow cabinet with its painted scenes from Japan might stick out in a house decorated as impersonally as a motel room, but this piece of furniture fits this living room like a glove. Those bookshelves jammed with everything from cookbooks to the novels of Marcel Proust proclaim the owner’s eccentricities and eclectic interests. Rugs on polished wooden floors warm the rooms, and the family photos lining the fireplace mantle speak of love and memory of both the living and the dead.
Children who grow up in such households remember them, often unconsciously, for the rest of their time on this earth. Though she moved three times after I had flown the coop, my mother excelled at making each house a home, and to pay her a visit was to be whisked back to the comfort and security of childhood. Whenever my brothers or I visited Mom, for example, one of our first acts was to open the refrigerator door and peer inside. The habits of our early school days died hard.
So why make such a big deal out of homemakers?
Because in the homemaker we find a bedrock of civilization. In a time when wind and rain batter our traditions and our culture, these good souls provide a refuge from the storms: safe havens of beauty, stability, and normality.
To all who create these tiny harbors of civilization, thank you.
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Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.