Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Company Ready Home

Library of Congress: Mrs.Schulstad and her daughter setting the table for dinner. South Dakota, 1940.

There is usually a main room where guests first see when they enter a home. This is often a kitchen or living room.  These are the common rooms we housekeepers try to keep the neatest.  We also do our best to keep the bathroom tidy.

It is not possible to keep all rooms, of a house, perfectly organized and spotless at all times. This is because we do not live inside a magazine cover photograph. Our homes are not going to be "picture perfect." But we do well when we keep the main rooms company ready.

I have often read of the different temporary homes which Caroline Ingalls and her family lived in.  She did a few specific things on a daily basis:

1. She always swept the floors each day, even dirt floors in a sod house.

2. The beds were made each day. She made her own, and directed her girls to make theirs.  This was an expected chore.

3.  After each meal, she and the girls would wash and put away the dishes. She would put a clean tablecloth on the table. Then she would put the Kerosene lamp neatly at the center of the table. It made things look pleasant and tidy.

4. All were expected to sit up straight and use their manners, even if they were camping near the river on their way to a new homestead out west.

There was a time when they didn't have much and the children had been sick with Scarlet Fever. I believe this was in the book, "On the Banks of Plum Creek."   Some company was stopping by unexpectedly.  Ma (Caroline) worried about what food she could serve, since nothing special was available at the time.  Laura, who had been taking care of everyone said something like, "If it is good enough for us, it is good enough for them!" This is so sweet because the way in which they lived, good housekeepers, hard workers, and simple living with dignity, made any meal they served to the family, or to guests, a blessing.

In these modern days, we can certainly take a few minutes throughout the day to keep things neat.  I like to polish the bathroom sink, wash mirrors and put out a fresh towel each day.  I also make my bed each morning, and open the blinds to let in the cheerful sunshine.   I straighten flower arrangements (these are assorted plastic flowers that make things look extra nice all year round), straighten chairs, and put everything "to rights" in the main parlour. This helps to keep our home looking inviting and pleasant. 

It is good to just keep the house looking nice in case unexpected guests show up.   When my parents were in their elder (retirement) years, they used to do some extra tidying on Sunday afternoons, as that was the common time when church members would stop in to see them once a month or so.  Mother would be sure to have some coffee cake on hand for refreshments.  She and Dad would dust the furniture and vacuum the carpets. They would make the kitchen counters and table look extra pretty.  This was for "just in case" company came. If nobody stopped by that week, they would enjoy the special treat and the extra lovely home regardless.

Years ago, one of my grown daughters used to love to drop in for a surprise visit. She lived a few hours away and I never knew when she would just show up for the night, or for a day- visit.  I always wanted to have a warning so I could buy special foods I knew she liked.  As the years went by, I realized that I would much rather have her just show up unexpectedly. Surely she would enjoy any food we had on hand because it would be made with love. It was much more fun to have her come by without a warning. She loved to see how happy and surprised I was to see her! 

In my childhood home, special treats like cake or popcorn were reserved for once a week or special occasions.  Often this was on a weekend.  If company happened to stop by, they would share in the refreshments.  If they happened to show up on a weekday, they would have the common fare of whatever meal we were having - nothing special.  But we made sure our house was always decent and neat so we could share our happy home and life with our guests.

Very often, "Nothing special" in a cared- for, humble home is just what company would love to see.

To have a company ready home just means we housekeepers are doing our job of keeping a decent and tidy home. We look as nice as we can (as representatives of our homes), and gladly welcome weary visitors with a smile and with grace.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

The Way it Was - Retirement Planning for the Poor.

A Happy Marriage - Serving Mister.

Training Children - Nobody Wants to Clean a Messy House.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 



Tammy said...

Lovely post. I enjoy keeping our (new to us) home neat and tidy. And while it's not much, it's nice to 'show it off' a bit, too! :D

(although a doublewide, it is the nicest place I've/we've really ever lived, and are so grateful to God for it)

Laura Lane said...

Oh Mrs. White, I do wish I could drop in one Sunday afternoon for a visit. Vermont and Missouri may as well be a million miles apart. I'm glad we can visit like this. By the way, may I please borrow a cup of snow?

Happy week!
Mrs. Laura Lane

Anonymous said...

I remember a friend of mine years ago inviting me over. We has just one or two toddlers then. She served store bought white toast with cinnamon and sugar, with tea. I remember being amazed because it seemed when anyone else had us to visit the treat/snack was so extravagant. I LOVED this because this, really, is how I was raised. How we live now.
Another example of serving what is on hand. We had a gentlemen and his teen sons over splitting wood. They came unexpectedly and I didn't have much on hand. I made a mound of peanut butter and jelly and a pitcher of ice water. I recall looking out the window anxiously as on of my teen daughters carried that tray of food out to them. I wished so badly I had a mountain of burgers, fresh fruit, and sodas for them. But, that's what the children and I were eating (pb&j), and that's what I had to share!! I watched and they polished off every last bit with smiles and I praised God for having food to share.
I am so grateful for your down to earth writing and a reminder simple, humble living can be done with elegance and dignity.

Deborah Montgomery said...

Although I rarely have anyone just stop by, I often will pause during my day and look around to make sure the house is "company-ready" just in case. It motivates me to try and see things as a visitor would, and to keep everything tidy and pretty.

Debby in KS said...

I try to have all the tidying done by about 9am each morning. I rarely have unexpected visitors, but it makes me happy to see neatness. I try and keep a package of cookies in the freezer, but my husband inevitably finds them! I need to hide them in a box of frozen peas or something.

I used to be great about having the guest room ready at all times, but I've lapsed. I keep using the guest bed to lay out sewing projects. At least the sheets are always clean and the room is dusted.

Mrs. Robichaux said...

Mrs. White,
I do wish you knew how much I longed to hear from you, through your blog. I have been so blessed to stumble upon it a few years back. Your books have been such a blessing as well. Anytime I am down or over whelmed I know that I can look to you to encourage me and always put me in the right mind set. You are such an inspiration to all us. And I, like Laura Lane, would so love to visit with you. I feel we would all be such "Kindred Spirits", as Anne of Green Gables would say. But Texas is a million miles away from everywhere!
I hope you have had a blessed day today!
Thanks for all the encouragement and hope you give to all of us!
God Bless You,
Mrs. Robichaux

living from glory to glory said...

Hello, Once again I came to your blog thirsty for refreshing waters. And I was not disappointed ;o)
Life has a way of making us feel dried up; but I have learned this very art of keeping the house in a way that the company would be welcomed. Even though it does seem that people do not come to visit or to make a call to one's friends anymore. I still love all the pointers and rejoice that I have a home to keep and I love to be at home...
Love, Roxy

Brandi said...

I don't usually have "stop by" company, but I have to have a neat and tidy home to be able to function! Plus, I think it's just part of my job as a stay-at-home mom. I want my kids to see, too, that hard work and taking care of the home and other blessings is a way to honor God. I'm feeling so behind right now due to sickness running through the house. :(

Thanks so much for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays!!

Sharon said...

Dear Mrs.White,I feel so blessed to have found your site.I was needed to read your articles, I have been going through some struggles. I feel like good lead me to your site.Ì am in the process of rèading all your back articles. I have your articles over the year's in different magazine, they always bless me.For mothers day,I plan to buy one or two of of your books as a gift to myself.I would like to write more,but I am a letter writer,not a typer.God bless, Sharon

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Mrs. White, your posts about simpler times are heartwarming. I'm striving to make/keep life as simple as possible, and part of that is simplifying having company. I just don't enjoy the major preparations for fancy "do's" anymore and am starting to let go of worrying about how my guests might have been expecting more from me. A friend recently attended a baby shower complete with matching rented tables, chairs, linens, custom invitations, catered meal, etc, altogether an event that outdid many people's weddings! Why?!!!