We all know that history repeats itself.  Usually, when we think on this, our minds wander to wars, rumors of wars, fashion – what we would call ‘the big picture’.  Rarely, if ever, do we think about the small, day-to-day things. 

In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1, verse 9, King Solomon penned these mighty words: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  I think about this passage every time I see something on the Internet, in books or hear in conversations about the ‘new’ way of doing things – homesteading; simple living; back to nature.  In all honesty, even the words I write are nothing new.  These are all terms we use to describe that ‘new’ lifestyle that is essentially the same way our grandparents, great grandparents and ancestors lived.  The only thing really different is that we have more of a choice now – they didn’t have the technology, appliances, or even indoor plumbing, for that matter.  Take the latest one I have been seeing, for instance…

From an early age, I can think back and ‘see’ my mom standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes.  At meal time visits to Dot and Emily’s, there were unassigned tasks – two people would clear the table, one person would wash the dishes, one would dry and another would put the dishes away.  On weekend visits to Aunt Evelyn’s small farm, some of our best conversations were over a sink full of suds.

Then one day, Aunt Dot wowed us all with a counter top dishwasher.  It wasn’t much bigger than a large roaster, but she hooked it up to the sink with a rubber hose, and we could watch the water through the clear top.  She only used it when it was just her and Emily at home.  For large gatherings, we still did the hand version.  I still laugh when I think about Aunt Evelyn vs a dishwasher.  She would stand at the sink, full of soapy water, wash the dishes then stack them in the dishwasher to ‘wash’ them.  Talk about a woman with appliance trust issues!

Our dishes are sacred to us.  The good china and silverware are ALWAYS washed by hand. The dishes are lovingly washed with a gentle cloth, rinsed in hot water, then hand dried immediately.  No stacking them in a drainer, as they might clink and get scratched, or horror of horrors, broken.  The silver is washed the same, then spread out on a soft towel while awaiting another soft drying towel.  And all of it must be bone-dry before being put away.  Washed many a dishes and forks just that way.

Around here, we do have a dishwasher.  Ours is truly a matter of convenience, because too often we still have things on our list of to-do’s that have to be taken care of before we finally get to go to bed.  However, the Country Boy has a problem with large items in the dishwasher.  Pots, pans, mixing bowls and Tupperware are hand washed and put on a towel that has been spread over the island to dry.  Don’t even THINK about putting Mama’s china, Dot’s fruit dishes, my Snowman dinnerware or Aunt Becky’s silver in the dishwasher.  That is automatic grounds for being swatted with a dish towel.

Regardless of the convenience, there are times that I still just enjoy washing my dishes by hand.  It gives me some much needed quiet time if I am doing it alone. The jumble of insignificant thoughts begins to filter.  My mind begins to slow down, and I am able to focus more clearly on what is important.  It is also a time of worship – to list my blessings, to offer thanks, to ponder His greatness.  There is just something soothing about the feel of warm soapy water on my hands as they stay busy on a simple task. 

When I have help, whether it be the Country Boy or one of my children, it is a time of quiet conversation.  We have an opportunity to just talk – to just be together.  We may speak of nothing of any significance, or we may try our hand at solving the world’s problems.  We also use it as a time to reflect on each of our lives, and maybe use each other as a sounding board.  No matter what the topic of conversation, we are together and enjoying one another’s company.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

This is a part of history that I love to see repeating itself.  It has been done, is being done, and will be done again.  I am a part of that history, just as my Mom was, just as Dot, Emily and Evelyn were, and just as you will be.  It’s just a small piece of Simply Living, but it can be one of the greatest things we can be a part of. 

Create your own history.  Wash your dishes by hand tonight.

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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