“Make home your hobby, for if anyone makes a loving home with all his heart, he can never miss heaven.” (Elder David O. McKay at April 1935 general conference.)
Family responsibilities today are very different from when our great-grandparents were young; unlike them we don’t have to spend hours and hours churning butter, weaving our own cloth, or making hand-dipped candles. We also don’t have to sew, bake bread, or can our own fruit. Yet it’s important that we learn at least some of those basic skills. Not only will we acquire some valuable knowledge, but we will also have a lot of creative and enjoyable experiences while we’re at it.
“Preparing for the future can be challenging and exciting,” said Becky Alice Johnson, shortly before her marriage to Stephen F. Petersen last spring. “Decide what skills you would like to become proficient in, and then determine the best route to gain that proficiency. Also learn to budget and save your money, setting goals to use it wisely. All those things will be of great help to you when you do become married, go away to college, on a mission, or to work. Remember, you are preparing for your future, not just waiting to get married.”
An experienced goal-setter and achiever, Becky is well-qualified to give advice. Before her wedding she was able to share her ideas, and show the results of her labors at a trousseau luncheon given by her visiting teachers and the wife of one of the members of the bishopric.
All the Young Women in Becky’s ward, as well as many other friends, were invited to attend the open house luncheon held at Sister Catherine Hogan’s home. As the guests arrived, windblown and flushed from the chill winter weather, Becky greeted them with punch and a variety of finger sandwiches. Downstairs were several display tables, accompanied by note cards that contained appropriate scriptures, thoughts, and notes of explanation.
The items in her trousseau reflected careful planning and selection as well as her love for her family and desire to keep her heritage alive. On one display was draped a blanket made from the wool of her grandfather’s sheep; on another chair was a baby afghan crocheted by her 90-year-old uncle. Becky is an accomplished seamstress, does embroidery work, and also crochets. “Learning to crochet, although it is a simple thing, has been a blessing in my life,” she said. “My mother died in an automobile accident a few years ago, and at the time she was working on an afghan for me. It was in the car with her, and with the help of a friend I was able to finish it.”
Another homemaking art that was apparent was Becky’s ability to save and use money wisely.
Beginning in her early teens she began working at such part-time jobs as teaching piano lessons, tutoring second graders in reading, and selling chicken at a drive-in restaurant. Through her savings she was able to purchase a sewing machine, cookware set, typewriter, silverware service for eight, and a set of fine dishes.
“I never bought anything that wasn’t on sale and that I wasn’t sure I really wanted. I was in no hurry, so I could take my time and find the best buy. When I became engaged, I realized that if I had waited to buy these things until I was ready to set up housekeeping, I would probably have had to pay whatever price was asked.”
Becky has also budgeted her tuition at the University of Utah and a trip to Europe into her savings. While in Florence, Italy, she purchased silk scarves which a friend helped her make into a quilt top. The scarves have “Firenze” (which means Florence in Italian) printed on them, so Becky calls it her “Florence quilt.” Because her mother’s name was Florence, this quilt is even more special to Becky and was shown at the luncheon next to other quilts Becky has helped make.
Another display contained her piano books, yearbooks, seminary and high school graduation certificates, hand-painted figurines, and scrapbooks—all mementos of activities and hobbies that have been meaningful in her life. Looking at them, and then observing the quilts hanging further down, the home-canned fruits and vegetables at the end of the room (which she likes to give as wedding gifts), and the sewing machine off to the side, it was apparent that Becky had prepared well for her future. And preparing well meant planning well. Some of the goals Becky set and achieved were (1) to learn to play the piano well, (2) to graduate from seminary, (3) to own a sewing machine and learn to sew most of her own clothing, (4) to have a nice set of dishes on which to serve her friends and later her family, and (5) to continue her education at the University of Utah. Perhaps one of the most valuable challenges she accepted was to enjoy the time of preparing, using as her motto something taught to her by her mother: “I want to grow, learn, and develop that I may give so much more.”
There are many different ways in which to prepare for the future. It’s a good idea to give some consideration to the kind of homemaker you want to be and begin planning and preparing now. Following are a few additional suggestions you may find helpful:
1. Make a “Mother Box” for your future children. Include in it your own favorite toys from years back, stuffed animals you make yourself, quiet books, etc.
2. Develop a library of good literature—books that are uplifting and inspiring or educational.
3. Begin a collection of children’s books.
4. Learn to refinish furniture. It isn’t hard and can make old weather-scarred chairs and tables look beautiful again.
5. Obtain something that is traditional in your culture—perhaps a sheep skin rug if you’re from Australia, or a linen tablecloth if you’re Irish.
6. Instead of just admiring the hooked rug, needlepoint, or knitted sweater your older sister made to take to college with her, ask her to show you how to begin one of your own.
7. Also, learn to sew. Start with something simple. Take a class or find someone to answer your questions and begin.
8. Do the same thing with baking pies or making gravy without lumps.
9. Find a small plot where you can have your own garden, or help with your family’s garden or your grandparents’ garden.
10. Develop your talents: Take music lessons, dance lessons, painting lessons, or voice lessons. Sign up for a bowling class, tennis class, or swimming class. Learn Spanish, French, or Japanese. The possibilities are endless.
11. Establish a savings plan. Set aside a certain amount of money each week or month for your mission, temple marriage, education, etc.
Remember that learning any new skill takes practice, and reaching any goal takes time, so begin now. As John Widtsoe said, “Decide what you want to be, pay the price, and be what you want to be.” You’ll be glad you did.