Crosscountry Christmas (& a book worth reading)

After driving from Virginia to Kansas (a mere 20-hour, two-day excursion) to drop off the dog at “grandmas,” then flying to El Paso, Texas, for my brother-in-law’s wedding, then back to Kansas, then driving back to…. well you get the point.

‘Twas a lovely wedding though…


And a lovely Christmas!

We’re back in Virginia now, and I feel like I’ve been gone for a month! I had high hopes of writing here about the food excursions along the way. After all, I did spend several days in the car while my loving, self-sacrificing husband drove most of the trip (I’m still trying to get out of the doghouse for that one). But I read a good book. And then another. And then I realized how much I like reading and decided I should spend more time reading — even if it means less time writing — in the New Year. Let’s not call it a resolution, though, or I’ll probably break it.

Driving is great (for those of us who get to ride) for a several reasons: 1) it allows a certain me to bring all my food goodies along to try to evangelize my parents about the glories of a Vitamix and kombucha and kimchi. 2) It allows this one to come with us…

So she can play with this one (my mom’s dog/her long lost twin)…

And 3) it allows me to read. I finished a book that’s been on my Kindle for a while, and I would highly recommend it — Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar.

Matchar, a freelance writer like me, is probably around my age and has now convinced me that I should have written a book by now. Or maybe I should have written this book. I love books that, like a long news feature, delve into the how’s and why’s of our culture. Like, why on earth are modern women with umpteen degrees eschewing the traditional workplace to stay home with children and knit and can and blog? Matchar offers some thought-provoking, if at times convicting, observations.

For modern women, old-fashioned symbols of household drudgery have become playful expressions of modern femininity.

She adds:

When we’re constantly faced with media-generated panics about commitment-phobic men with “Peter Pan syndrome,” we look rosily upon a past when men were men and women were women. When the economy is crappy, we fantasize about a Little House on the Prairie era when a resourceful lady could sell her quilts or eggs for a little extra cash. When our workplace is a mind-numbing blur of white walls, computer screens, and Skype conferences, we might dream about the spicier, scotch-and-smoke-filled offices of Mad Men, with men in fedoras and women in figure-hugging sheaths.

 The chapters continue into further analysis of why our generation is returning to and “reclaiming” domestic or archaic skills, why women and men are choosing adaptive and sometimes all-consuming parenting lifestyles and why — my favorite — the term foodie is really dumb:

The term “foodie” was originally invented to describe people who really enjoy eating and cooking, which suggests that others do not. Yet today everyone is meant to have a deep and abiding appreciation for and fascination with pure, wholesome, delicious, seasonal, regional food. The expectation that cooking should be fulfilling for everyone is insidious, especially for women.

If you’re looking for an introspective New Year’s read (or if you’re my mom and trying to understand why your daughter keeps gifting you canned goods you could buy at the store), I’d highly recommend it. I share the author’s curiosity about this trend, though not always her skepticism. I wholeheartedly agree that the growing trend of food obsessed-ness is in desperate need of balance. More approaches like Jennifer Reese’s Make the Bread, Buy the Butter would do us all some good.

Speaking of balance, I can’t think of a better resolution. So if you’re trying to balance out and recover from this…

I’d recommend these posts:

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