My friend Rachel recently returned from visiting her family in England. She told me that her mother still sets time aside for ironing, including pillow cases, sheets and even underwear.
While there, Rachel told her mother — to her mother’s surprise — that she no longer irons.
Rachel is a busy wife and mom to 3 boys— one is still a baby.
The topic of ironing reminded me of when I was stationed in Germany and of our loving babysitter, Oma (Grandma) Adelaide Lonien.
Any clothing that baby Dominique soiled while at Oma’s house got washed and IRONED. Mind you, these clothes were for a BABY, whose wardrobe consisted mostly of SLEEPERS, and well…who SLEPT a whole lot.
Don’t get me wrong, I so appreciated getting the clean pile of uber-soft, perfectly folded, smoothly ironed baby sleepers when I picked up Dominique.
At the same time though, the thought of baby sleepers being ironed always made me laugh because I found it so unnecessary.
I suppose that it is a gesture of love and pride from certain people —- you want your family to look good right?
So perhaps the same thing with the ironing habits of my friend Rachel’s mom…but the ironing underwear part? Well, OK, if you were modeling for Victoria’s Secret, you would not want wrinkly undies. Not a good look on the runway.
I used to iron more than I do now…my favorite clothing to wear are linens and cottons, so it is a requirement really. Lately though, my favorite linen shirts have been missing in action, in a basket piled with items to iron. Lola is just too busy — after all, in addition to other tasks, I have a blog to maintain now!
My younger sister —who hardly irons anymore and is also in favor of wrinkle free clothing– recently uttered a saying in tagalog I have not heard in ages. Hahabulin ka nang plantsa! One says this when a person –usually a close friend or a much-loved relative— is wearing something so obviously in need of ironing.
It translates to something like: The iron is going to chase you! I don’t think I have heard an English version of this (let me know if you have), so I wonder if Filipinos are just more wrinkle-phobic.
And talk about old school ironing…when we were little in the Philippines and living in the province with our Nanay Lucing, ironing was a major and hazardous undertaking. Here is a photo of an iron from that looks just like the one we had.
As you can see, there is no electric plug. And it is called an iron…because its made of IRON. In order to use this contraption, you must first make a fire to have charcoal. You then load the iron with glowing hot charcoal and lock the lever on top shut.
One must plan this out as you would iron first the items that were thick and can take the “high heat” setting — actually make that the “hot as hell” setting. And be super careful lest you scorch –no, actually BRAND yourself (forever) if you accidentally let any part of the iron touch your skin.
I was too little to help in this chore thankfully, so my older sister and cousin had this responsibility. There was always a pile of fresh, cool banana leaves as a place to set the iron. Then too, there was the starch…oh my goodness. Nice to have that stiff cardboard look!
The part of collecting the banana leaves —well, the smaller girls were allowed to do. And we hung around to watch if anyone got burned, and to smell the banana leaves. Scorched banana leaves always did smell so good to us, because banana leaves are used in Filipino desserts.
With all the new wash and wear, and “wrinkle-free” type textiles in these modern times and our busy lives, who really irons anymore? Is this a generational thing and do you still iron — and what do you iron?
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