How many women wear an apron in the kitchen today, I wonder? My mother’s apron was part of her morning getting-dressed routine. The apron went on as soon as she buttoned her dress, and it stayed on until late afternoon. Then she would get dinner started and go upstairs to brush her hair, put on makeup and take off her apron in preparation for my father’s homecoming from work.
I wore an apron regularly as a young wife but over the years the apron and the housedress went to the wayside and jeans, flannel shirts and tee-shirts became my daily wear. I suppose it was a sensible change; I was outside a lot as we built our house and got our small farm going. I worked beside my husband in those days as we gathered wood, cleared brush and built fences and outbuildings. Housework became secondary to the necessity of the outside chores.
My daily uniform changed again when I started working and going to college in my mid-thirties. I was still wearing jeans but they were in a lot better shape than my “work” jeans, and the shirts became a little dressier. Sometimes I even wore a skirt, a sure sign that I was leaving the farm work behind. As our sons grew up and moved out, we farmed less and less. The tobacco, cattle, sorghum and hay all became part of our past and we moved into a new era. I was home infrequently so the gardens became small patches and our flock of hens was the only livestock on the place. My extensive herb gardens slowly died out while I was too busy to pay attention.
A gradual shift began about ten years ago. I began to miss the things I used to do. Slowly I added some of our former activities back to the daily routine. The gardens expanded, a new herb garden was added, we built a turkey house and added turkeys to the bird flock. Bees came next.
Then the apron came back into my life. Raising more gardens meant more cooking and canning and that meant more time in the kitchen. The practicality of the apron was immediately apparent and I was fortunate enough to find a few at yard sales. When my granddaughters came to visit, they wanted to wear an apron in the kitchen too as they helped with cooking and baking. At the annual gathering with my sisters to make fruitcake, everyone began showing up with aprons as part of the supplies they carried in for baking day.
The humble garment has made a comeback in my family. I now have an apron for every day of the week and then some. I have small ones for granddaughters and manly ones for grandsons. I have pretty spring ones and holiday ones. Each time I tie an apron around my waist, I think of my mother, busy in her kitchen as she cooked for thirteen children. I wonder how many other women have rediscovered the pleasure of wearing a pretty flowered apron as they cook for their families today?