Where does the time go?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jarring Thoughts

What ever happened to the great American basket.... you know, the one that wives used as a collecting tool... no respectable, pioneer woman would have kept house without a basket or an apron..... the baskets were long gone by the time my mother was raising me.... I do know that my grandmother used one as I still have it, hanging from my ceiling... it has a nice patena from years of hard use, but it has not seen an honest day's work in almost a century!

I recollect that my mom did use jars, jars & more jars... ball jars, mason jars, pickle jars... Growing up, these jars were actually hoarded, & it was an unspoken truth that the wife with the most jars was by far the best homemaker in the county! I remember women borrowing jars from each other in a pinch, & an accountability talley was kept on the wall. I would have been afraid to take a jar without asking Mama first, & I had to have a darn good reason before being awarded one... after all, a sound home depended on these containers.
The definition of a jar is simple, straightfoward, uncomplicated & mundane... a cylindrical glass with a threaded mouth & no handles or frills, & they were once found in abundance in all American homes as a recycled commodity. It seems like I still actually have a few of those around somewhere.... maybe under the sink...
When I was a kid, jars were used in relationship to food & liquid storage... a fruit jar, mayonaise jar, canning jar... but it has never just been about food as I recall, but more about managing a household.
Perhaps the most & maybe even the first mass-recycled object in our society, the quart jar made a passable depression era-workingman's-thermos if wrapped generously in newspaper to insulate cold or heat. With its simple design it lent itself for everything from icebox storage containers, measuring, canning, extra glasses, collecting bugs, storing money, sorting nails, sprouting seeds, dispensing medicines, selling moonshine, all the way to the infamous, though unpopular term, slop jar.
Humor me & consider the possibility that with the disappearances of the baskets, aprons, & then the jars, the quality of homelife has suffered progressively serious blows? Can a healthy home be a realilty if there is nothing concrete for gatherering, storing, preserving, working, & holding on to.... ?
The recent, stingy economic trend of manufacturing jars from cheap plastics or reducing them to foil pouches has been linked, in theory, to the fall of American, domestic values... it is possible that quality family homemaking has been pushed down a slippery slope due to fewer glass jars coming into a household & being made available for canning. It may be that the rapid disappearance of the glass jar has indeed been the final death-blow to the natural cycle of women growing, gathering & preserving to feed their families. The domino effect of this might be that women now have more free time to spend away from the home, taking the focus away from the main things... nurturing, comforting activities that produce safe, quiet nests to rear healthy families that in turn will begat more happy families.
Clearly, we are now womenfolk with more "me" time on our hands. Appliances for every job, shortcuts for every process & grocery stores stocked full. We think of containers as throw-away, & more & more jars are being found on flea market shelves as collectibles. Comically, we make the obsolete jars that have survived into flower vases, decorate them, create quilts in jars, present gifts in jars, & fill job jars with slips of paper tasks to be performed by the dhs & children of our households so as to appear impartial in assigning tasks.
Entire books have been written on collecting jars, creating gifts in jars, & some articles have addressed the sociological implications of democratically assigning chores through the fairness of the job jar distribution system. An Internet search on "job jar" will result in several computer programs for $ale that do away with the physical jar entirely & replace it with printed job strips being spewed forth in a democratic order!
I don't remember political correctness when my mom told me to do something.... it was just a chore... it had to be done... I had to do it... & if I complained, I was smacked (which really cut down on the complaining....lol!) Are we raising kids to actually believe that work is just a choice, & that all work has to be fair, or it is invalid?
It is much too late to revive the basket for practical purposes, the aprons as uniforms of honor, or the jars as primary containers, but give me a break.... how about everyone holding up their end of the deal & getting the jobs done that will make this America strong again? I admit that baskets, aprons, & jars may be more symbollic in the scheme of things than actually responsible for good results, but let us all consider for a moment that the responsibilities are still very real......parenting, homemaking, decent values, & work ethics can still be taught effectively in new & improved kitchens... in fact, education still starts at the kitchen table.


Mrs. V. said...

Oh, what an absolutely wonderful article! Don't give up hope, I'm one of the younger ones and I still can and keep a sharp eye out for any available jars! And I happen to know of quite a few other ladies with the same mindset! We're here...but you just don't hear much from us....we're too busy canning...

SGF said...

Good for you, Mrs. V. Homemaking is taking a backseat now-a-days....good to know you are out there.....also, you are welcome to post my recipe....thank you for linking back to me....I looked at your blog, & it has a great feel to it....Jana


Crafts. sewing, quilting, machine embroidery, soapmaking, cooking, homemaking, watercolor & commentaries on life....Jana in Missouri invites you to sit down with a cup of coffee!

This is the SGF companion blog, but membership is not necessary to enjoy. Application may be made at sewgoodfriends@yahoogroups.com , but please keep in mind that the SGF List flows smoothly. Bickering & swimming upstream salmon-style are not tolerated & may result in an unsub ... Jana (List Mom)


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