Some of you clicked just to see what planet I’m from that I would write about being thankful for housework. Well, I’m a citizen of heaven, but my residence is here on earth. On top of that, God gifted me for writing but tasked me with housework. Allow me to translate how dishes and laundry add up to a thankful heart.
I’m the kind who reads a book cover to cover, from the epigraph to the author’s acknowledgements. In so many novels I’ve read, the author gives thanks for a supportive spouse who didn’t mind eating frozen pizza from paper plates and who helped out with the laundry while the author dreamed of imaginary people. From those acknowledgements, I know I’m not alone in my unbalanced approach to writing and housework.
November and December are good months for writers. As the daylight hours shorten, and as the slow-moving behemoth of the publishing industry yawns, stretches, and promises to “look at it after the first of the year,” the month-long word count romp that is NaNoWriMo beckons. Even for those who resist the siren-song of creative camaraderie, the deepening chill of December practically compels the writer to curl up with a cuppa and an open Word doc.
Yes, around this time of year, I can crank out the words like a machine, and it feels awesome. I find it easy to be thankful for my writing during these months.
Likewise, November and December are good months for homemakers. We celebrate family with so many domestic activities. The food. The parties. Perhaps bringing out the good dishes for company and preparing the guest room for visitors from out of town. Don’t forget decorating, as we switch out the fall festive colors after Thanksgiving to “deck the halls” in green and red, silver and gold. And speaking of Thanksgiving—the FOOD. It bears repeating.
Yes, around this time of year, I get to be a domestic rock star, and it feels awesome. I find it easy to be thankful for housework during these months.
However, it’s the specialness of holiday housework that highlights the ordinariness of all other housework. It’s sometimes overwhelming and occasionally unbearable in its endlessness. And it is, in human terms anyway, endless. Cleaning up after ourselves is cyclical. What I wash today will need washing again by next week or next month. How simple it is to believe the lie that it’s hopeless, or pointless, or fruitless, to keep up with household maintenance.
I’m reading a book by Kathleen Norris entitled The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work.” It’s comparable to a pack of gum: small enough to tuck in my purse, but up to quite a bit of chewing. Its question, as I understand it so far, asks, “Can we find holiness in the mundane?”
Yet that “earth-stuff” is how I put my love into action for my family. It’s how peace, patience and faithfulness become reality inside the walls of my home. If God is pleased to grow fruit from the words I write, I may never see it, but in housework, my faith is made sight as the fruits of the Spirit ripen before my eyes.
And as for the spouse I’ll spend my writing career thanking in the acknowledgements? We email back and forth a good bit during the day, and today I let him know that I’d finally knocked out a task that had lingered on the back burner quite long enough. His response? “Thanks for taking care of things at home. It helps beyond words.”
Beyond words. Yes, I think that sums it up.
© Emilie Hendryx, 2014
BRANDY HEINEMAN loves stories of faith and family history. She’s a 2014 ACFW Genesis contest finalist and a graduate of Wesleyan College. She is also a first-generation Southerner who occasionally gets caught saying things like, “Y’all want some pop?”
In Brandy’s debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, Abby Wells seeks answers to eternal questions in the branches of her family tree, in spite of secretive Aunt Ruby and the gentle prodding of a handsome but tight-lipped caretaker. In the stillness of her ancestral home, the spirit world feels close enough to touch—but she doesn’t know that there’s more than one way to be haunted.
Brandy lives in metro Atlanta with her husband, Michael. Visit her at http://brandyheineman.com.