The housewife girds herself for the fray

We’re heading for a different sort of Christmas; in many ways for our little family it will be the same, there’s only four of us and although some years we have a visitor for lunch, not this time – and only because of friends being otherwise entertained. I haven’t even begun to think about cooking, but I expect it will be the traditional fare. With that in mind, although I have shared this before, I will share it again.

The little National Mark booklet, published in the early 1930’s follows the year with recipes and suggestions of what to cook with the seasonal produce available. In December, the cookery booklet applauds the ‘hostess-housewife’ in what we would think is a very dated way, but it was of its time and is rightly celebrating the very hard work that most housewives undertook every day, without our wonderful technological gadgets and aids, and in many if not most cases without the help of the husband. Here are the words of wisdom from Ambrose Heath and Mrs D.D. Cottington Taylor, and I love the surreal image of the housewife enthroned upon her kitchen table!:

December and the last month of the calendar! Of all the months this is the one when Cook holds sway. and some sign of greediness may be permitted. The hostess-housewife girds herself for the fray of entertaining friends and relatives and with a determined mien prepares her Christmas kitchen battery. Pardonable that she should feel a kindly rivalry towards those who will receive her hospitality. She naturally wants her entertaining to be the best, for she is a proud woman. Amid the congratulations of her guests – enthroned on the kitchen table with her rolling-pin sceptre-like in one hand and the National Mark Book in the other – she will reveal her secret : National Mark! A happy Christmas! Tired out but happy in her triumph, the crockery washed, the children packed to bed, the guests all gone, she reaps the reward of her labour and her enterprise. And in the morning she will awake to another day, the same as so many before but, after the twelve months’ experience easier and happier… Hurrah for National mark! And a Happy New Year!

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