But wear a turtleneck.
Growing up Momma avoided volunteering in the classroom on certain Thursdays because she "had Club" -
What kind of Club?
Mickey Mouse Club?
Super Reader of the Month Club?
I didn't know. I just knew it was a special Club because she always made cookies the night before the meetings and sometimes we had to clean like little slaves on the days leading up to the elusive "Club".
"Did you dust the banister?" Momma would ask.
"Are your friends going upstairs?" we would push back.
"It doesn't matter. This is Club. These ladies invented the dust rag."
After that thought churned in our tiny little heads, we didn't ask questions. We just dusted the banister. With Pledge.
Years passed and I learned that "Club" was Momma's county home extension club meetings.
They shared cleaning tips.
They read devotions and prayed together.
They collected clothes and toys for families in need.
They took care of their kids.
And great grandkids.
And kids they'd never have the opportunity to meet.
I later moved to college and became even more thankful for parents - Momma and Dad - who found immense value in such training. At Purdue I met young women who had mothers who wanted to be their friend, not their parent (whole other topic, read my thoughts here). Those who wanted to share their jeans, not mend them. Those who wanted to cut turkey out of Thanksgiving due to a vegan diet, not teach them how to use the turkey drippings in the gravy. Yum-o.
When I moved home from Washington, DC one of the first things I did was join Club.
I'm a fourth generation member of Harrison Extension Homemakers in Indiana. I'll admit that nothing I bring to the club is ground-breaking (I swear a few of these women taught Paula Dean how to cook), but I do really bring the average age of membership down. My great Grandma Ruby was a founder of the club, and periodically I wear her TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) bracelet to remind myself that any recipe I redeem from an extension homemakers meeting will surely go straight to my Moyer thighs.
Annually we have a meeting (Gifts From The Home) where we bring gifts/recipes from the home, something we've handcrafted for someone else. Not only do we have to present our craft, we also have to share instructions on how we made it. You see, home extension clubs are like Pinterest before Pinterest (or the internet...or computers...or electricity) existed. These projects are actually feasible and already completed by a real person.
Gifts From The Home night is a lot like Pinterest, except it's real.
I brought personalized Jean's Boots Stationary. I dare you to try explaining how to operate a Cricut to a roomful of women who don't yet understand why you'd knowingly keep an "insect" in your office.
Then go on to explain why, instead of hand-mending a pair of ripped jeans, you'd cut them into strips for denim on said Jean's Boots Stationary.
There were gasps of disappointment and confusion. Some even geared towards my innocent mother.
I did not win "best gift from the home" that night.
A cross-stitched wall hanging of cats in Santa costumes won.
They were holding hands dancing around a Christmas tree.
Made of catnip.
The caption: Meowy Christmas!
I'm not bitter.
Though I may smirk at the interactions I have with members of my beloved home extension club, the truth is I desire to be more like these women. They're simple, self-sufficient, creative, God-fearing and kind. They successfully reared children and enjoyed marriages and played an active role in giving back to their community. They know there is satisfaction in a more simple life. And they live by that. I desire to live by that, too.
I've never left a Club meeting where I didn't learn something I'll incorporate into our home. At the conclusion of each meeting we recite the Extension Homemaker Creed. I don't know it by heart yet, but I smile each time we read it.
We believe in the present and its opportunities, in the future and its promises, in everything that makes life large and lovely, in the divine joy of living and helping others; and so we endeavor to pass on to others that which has benefited us, striving to go onward and upward reaching the pinnacle of economic perfection, in improving, enlarging and endearing the greatest institution in the world, The Home.
Mrs. C.W. Horne
I sincerely hope that home extension clubs will be around for generations to come. Far beyond the words that I can type, there is value in those programs and lessons. Today's world needs them, craves them.
The next generation needs to know how to tend a garden, prepare a healthy meal, sew on a button and help a friend in need.
Besides, where else would I find the determination and time to learn how to cross stitch for next year's gifts from the home?
My current project is a wall hanging of the Easter Bunny with his arm around a St. Patrick's Day leprechaun.
The caption: Lucky Rabbit's Foot