Monday, February 2, 2009

Pleasant Work

My husband comes from a family of really hard workers. These people don't sit around and play games, they build patios together, they don't go out and buy an outfit for a baby gift, they make a crib... my husband's father is such a hard worker he pushes himself till he gets ill sometimes. I'm telling you, this has to be genetic, or something. My boys are really hard workers, too. My almost five year old today was clearing ice off the back patio, voluntarily. He was wielding this full sized shovel, jaw clenched, muscles straining, eyes determined, and not giving up. He smashed and shoveled and pushed and never complained once about the cold or the hard work. He just dug in there and did it. We actually had to tell him to go in and have lunch Right Now! He says, "I just wanted to be really helpful, Mom!" That is so endearing, because it's good evidence of an active personality and willingness to be useful. He was really, really helpful! My girls like to be helpful, too. They like to help with the baby and help with the meals and help with the kitchen, as long as they don't have to do it alone.

I think that working as a group, with people who you find pleasant, makes work pleasant. One hears or reads stories about quilting or husking bees, barn raisings, etc. in the past. Women used to just come and visit with a paring knife when the peaches needed to be put away, or ready with a thimble to help quilt, or even baby on lap and spinning wheel on the back of the donkey to sit and spin and visit. An agrarian life always has some task that needs doing at home, but that shouldn't keep us isolated. The old saying, "A man works from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." is true of all homemakers. The work is endless, and most of us, instead of resting when we have spare time, just pick up some work we've been putting off for when we've "got a minute." Often we let that get in the way of fellowship. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut and never reach out beyond one's family when home is most of your world. Why should we not have parties for butchering the pig, or canning apple butter? Why not let many hands make light work and have a good visit, too? Why not have "Upholstery Saturday" once a month and rotate to all your good friend's houses to help with home improvement jobs. It makes work pleasant, turns a curse into a blessing, and fosters community. Working together is also very good for family relationships, as long as the work is done cheerfully. Mopping the floor can be fun if you race to get your section done first, or Mama reads aloud while you scrub. I have very pleasant memories of singing with my Grandma while we did dishes together. We sang a round about Lilies of the Valley, which just happen to be my birth flower:

White choral bells
Upon a slender stalk;
Lilies of the Valley
Deck my garden walk.
Oh, don't you wish
That you could hear them ring?
That will happen only
When the fairies sing!

I say this, but actually it's hard to ask people to "come and help." I assume it's kind of like asking them to come to a "party" and then offering to sell them jewelry. It's not exactly a party, is it? Of course, if your neighbor helps you move and you help them cut winter fuel for their furnace, it all works out in the end, like an economy of tasks. You watch my kids while I'm having a baby, I'll help you put in sod. I help you build a tree house, you help me put up pickles. I help you butcher a hog, you give me sausage, or a massage, or a makeover, or a tractor. You get it! Now, my question is: is all that taxable?

Now, I'm not a born worker like my husband's family, I often would rather sit and talk than get up and help work... I'm not a hard worker, I'm kind of lazy. I'm really better at delegating... (yes, I know, I should be ashamed of myself). But, when asked to help move, or help cook, or help butcher, or help cut and freeze sweet corn, I work hard, because I can work and visit, too. And, what's more, I enjoy myself! So isn't it safe to assume that when you ask people to come and help they enjoy themselves, too? I'll have to sit and think on that!

1 comment: