Linda Brooks Davis

Homes and Families Then and Now

The Calling of Ella McFarland is a story about faith and family in 1905 rural Oklahoma. As such, it presents a contrast between homes and families then and now.

Homes and families have changed in the past hundred years, but have the changes been superficial or fundamental? (Some of my favorite scenes from turn-of-the-twentieth-century homes on Pinterest)

A mother’s love in 1905 has changed not a whit over the past century. Nor has a father’s.

Bedtime prayers, stories, and lullabies were a part of family life for Edwardians and are for Millennials.

Isn’t a baby’s giggle the same today as way back when?

Haven’t children always loved playing on the stairs? And dolls, stuffed toys, tea parties, and rides on sleighs? Environments, materials, and workmanship may differ, but the common thread that makes each playtime event fun is sharing it with someone special.

The turn-of-the-twentieth-century woman enjoyed time alone in the bath, soaking her feet, having her hair styled, relaxing with a good book, and picking flowers. And sharing a good cup of tea (or coffee) with a friend. Last time I checked, today’s woman enjoys the same.

2015 women, like those in the early twentieth century, make their homes their nests. They decorate, bake, wash and clean, and sew or craft. They vacuum and clean bathrooms. They enjoy music and dancing and talking on the phone, as did women a century ago. Some of today’s women prize the stained glass artwork of 1905. And what wouldn’t a 1900s woman have given for a washing machine and dryer that worked at the twist of a knob?

Yesterday’s gramophone is today’s streaming music. Parlor games have given way to video games, but when friends and family share in the fun, the effect is the same.

The Hoosier of yesteryear is the modern kitchen built-ins of today, but a light left on for a loved one whether an oil lamp on a porch or a bulb over an electric stove conveys the same message: “I missed you. I’m glad you’re home.”

A pie crust whether rolled out on a floured cloth or a dough board or a granite counter top says “This is for you. Because I love you.”

Yes, what’s old is new and what’s new is old. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home goes for the sod house of yesterday and the luxury apartment of today. Where we live, what we wear, how we play, whom we love, even where we roll out a pie crust, may change, but the why stays the same: Love.

But has the most fundamental feature of all–faith in God–changed over the past hundred years? If so, in what ways? And why?

Does it matter? I welcome your comments.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 
I John 4:7 (NIV)

2 thoughts on “Homes and Families Then and Now

  1. I remember my grandmother’s washer in the basement, the turning of a big ringer, and hanging the clothes out in the back yard. We have Paul’s grandfather’s gramophone in his office. I’m quite sure we have all the same wishes and desires for the new gadgets’ I’m fascinated with the old ones. Fundamentally probably the same faith as in Ella’s time…and 2000 years ago. Just love how you ponder on those things and share them with us.

  2. First, beautifully designed website, Linda! Congratulations on winning first place in the Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest. I can’t wait to read your book, The Calling of Ella McFarland. About this post, even though the way families live changes from generation to generation, I like the way you focused on the positive things we have in common. You have uplifted me, and I thank you.

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