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Chatterbox: Never cut those apron strings

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Recently, I bumped into a really sweet gal I first met years ago.

Like no time passed, we were back to chatting it up. She’s a class act with a great personality, but she also has a gift I envy completely - she sews. I mean really sews. To take raw fabric, do magic, and create something that’s actually recognizable, attractive, and useful to boot, to me, is one step away from creating life in a test tube. I can ruin a shirt by replacing a button. I have a few skills but none involve fabric, although I own much of it, and we’ve talked about that addiction before.

Now, my friend has given me great joy by using her skills on my fabric. I have a penchant for aprons because one of the skills I do possess is cooking, and I love it. She is turning my fabric stash into aprons. It was what the fabrics – all food designs – were purchased for. Until now, I’ve just been visiting my fabrics from time to time. Finally, they will serve – so I can serve.

It’s a bit surreal to watch someone take a sheet of newspaper and a marker and turn it into a pattern right before your eyes, then, go home with a yard of peppers on a black background and return with a piece of nostalgia that evokes memories of childhood and a kitchen filled with meatballs and family (yes, I’m crying right now … I can’t help it).

Various Chatterbox columns have encompassed what happens in a kitchen. We’ve talked about cooking, music, family, even the relevance of a schmatta when it’s bread baking day, and yes, aprons. We’ve talked about cooking traditions and heritage, but when it comes to kitchens, for many of us, aprons take the cake. They keep the mess off our dress (or pants) and our day off our dishes. They’re comforting, instilling ease in our efficiency by allowing us to abandon concerns about splatters or where to wipe those wet hands. One kitchen towel tucked into the ties and we’re good to go.

Even if we never wear one, most of us own at least one. Professional chefs live in them and backyard grill masters wouldn’t approach the charcoals without one, but cooks aren’t the only people who use one. There was a time when most tradesmen had them, and they varied a bit from craft to craft. Carpenters, blacksmiths, butchers, even undertakers all understood the value of the proper tools and an apron was imperative. The fabric was also particular to the trade; even today, around the world, fine craftspeople use them.

They hold something else, and I don’t mean in their pockets; it’s a feeling of home. Many of us have childhood memories of family members making something special. Some things were only made when certain groups gathered to make it. My aunts made homemade pasta together occasionally, and not one was without an apron.

Personally, my kids laugh because they post photos of our gatherings on their social media pages, and I’m always whining, “I’m in an apron!” Well, of course, because I’m always in an apron. In other people’s kitchens, I borrow theirs, and my Christmas apron – hand decorated by my daughters 25 Christmases ago and worn only on Christmas Day - is long famous at home. Now, it’s famous in Canada too. Our family’s YouTube video was chosen for a grocery chain’s holiday commercial last Christmas … no lie. Even on television … I’m in an apron! Oy!

Finally, as I anxiously await the rest of my aprons, completely thrilled with the first one my gifted girlfriend whipped up from her newspaper pattern, I add this little aside: I returned from various trips to Italy, each time, with gifts for the girls in my family – nice gifts like Murano glass or leather gloves. Yet, nothing excited them more than when I returned from Sicily with aprons. Go figure.

That tug of the heartstrings is really just the pull of those aprons strings. It’s a charm.

Chatterbyte: This is my annual reminder, because it’s important: If you have children leaving for college and you want to have access to their grades, you must have your students sign a letter to that effect before a Notary Public. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get any information, even if you are the one paying the tuition. Keep one original at home, and file another original with their school’s Registrar’s office.


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