By Barb Hauge
Wherever we land, women the world over try very hard "to make nice" even when stuck with the most meager of life-styles. Women also attempt "to make nice" when dealing with the many types of people life sends our way. "Nice" is not what some of them deserve!
As a girl growing up on a Montana ranch during the Great Depression, "making nice" meant growing and preserving all the food possible, recycling whatever came our way and maintaining standards of decency and cleanliness. Without much money we struggled to make life as nice as possible.
At Farmers Union Camp, we used to sing: In a house near the wood where the farmer stood there lived his helpmate lovely and good. As she cooked and she stirred she was glad that she heard (her farmer singing as he ploughed) and she echoed every word. "High-ho my little buttercup. We'll dance until the sun comes up." Thus she sang as she stirred and she smiled as she sang while the woods and the welkin rang. It was our idyllic dream that we too would have a love and a life we could "make nice."
During our travels we have seen women from Chinese to Navajos of the Southwest and from Geisha entertainers in Japan to Scottish dancers of the Highland Fling trying very hard "to make nice" the lives of their families and the people they meet. Whether cooking tortillas or rice over an open fire or doing traditional dances or playing the bagpipe or flute, women are often the peace makers and entertainers; regulators and custodians of human environment. We plan and cook and clean and organize and schedule and transport and entertain. We try very hard "to make nice" the world in which we live.
When I was a child "making nice" meant a weekly routine of washing and cleaning, cooking and caring and soothing away troubles. We embroidered dish towels which said, "Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Bake on Wednesday" and so on. Saturday was when we cleaned house and bathed and Sunday often meant chicken dinner and entertaining company. "Making nice" meant fresh flowers in summer on the dining room table and a good oilcloth for the kitchen where we kids all ate together.
With families grown and gone, even seniors with limited income manage "to make nice" in ways that give us feelings of pride and comfort. We no longer need to save the best for "good." We can use our prettiest dishes and wear our best clothing. Our future is now so why save furniture etc., with slip covers and plastic? We no longer count the grocery pennies but buy the food we enjoy. For health and exercise we continue to grow much of our own food so we can splurge a bit. When a book we yearn for is published we can even buy it in hard cover and not wait for paperback. And why live in darkness to prevent fading? Open up your drapes and enjoy the sunshine whenever you like.
Yes, do "make it nice" right now and in every way possible. We deserve it. That's why Tom Brokaw called us "The Greatest Generation!"