Between You and Me...!

Dick van der Pyl


Rummaging among second-hand books at a flea-market in Amsterdam, I came across a very old edition titled “Oma weet het beter” (Oma Knows Best). I searched around for what Opas might know even more and better, but was told that the feminist movement had burnt them all! They would, wouldn't they! For a few guilders I claimed Oma's opinions, including over 2,500 tips, recipes and a host of domestic remedies. My grandmother on my mother's side was a bit like that. With a glint in her eyes she would come up with some old-fashioned wisecracks. In her last years she would gaily lift up her frock, point to her old legs and sigh, “What a shame it would be to bury those beautiful looking legs,” which had carried her for over three score and ten years!

Anyway, let me just mention some of Oma's best!

“The housewife has in her hands the happiness in the home. It's hers to create a happy home! When she understands her duties as spouse, housewife and/or mother and knows how to cultivate these attributes, then a homely atmosphere is guaranteed.

However, if that is not so, it generally becomes more and more impossible to create real happiness in the home! There'll be disorder, untidiness, and no comfortable family-life. More often than not, the husband will then join his mates at the local pub! There'll be ill-bred kids, arguments and division in the home! There'll be poverty and needs and discord! How different is the home of a housewife of sterling qualities. What a blessing that is! There will be peace and happiness! Such homes cause those enviable virtues to blossom. Remember the old saying: `Good wives make great husbands!'”

The “Oma Who Knows Best” then spells out some qualities of a good housewife.

Personal Qualities

In the first place, she must be spiritual and convinced that “all blessings come from God”. She'll cherish a genuine love for her husband, will make every effort to make his life pleasant, and will help him to lighten his cares. She's unselfish, suppressing her own wishes to that of her dear husband. She's patient and able to bear and excuse the faults of others in her home! And when peace threatens to disturb the home, she will know when to keep silent! To be sincere and open is one of her virtues! She has no secrets from her dear husband, but is frank enough to share her sadness, her restlessness or agitation for fear it may disturb their relationship.

She's peaceful and gentle, acknowledging and honouring her husband as the head of the house. She does not want to have the last word and is more than willing to accommodate differences of opinion. Always friendly and cheerful, she shows creativity and sociability, just like the sun bringing life to mother nature! Being cheerful, with a sweet smile at all times, she toils and cares while singing a merry song!

And thus, she truly will be a pleasant partner for her man and a loving, caring mother for her children.

Domestic Qualities

“Oma who knows best” quotes four domestic qualities: industry, orderliness, tidiness and being economical (thrifty). By being industrious, she'll be the first to get up in the early hours of the morning and last to get into bed behind the curtains, with a satisfying sense of having spent her time well! Never will she have to ask herself: “What shall I do next?” It has been proved, she says, that even though a husband may be a bad ruler in the home, the wife should still be able to upgrade their standard of living.

Orderliness is next to Godliness! Everything has its place, whether it's a needle or some shoes carelessly thrown on the floor. No brooms or clothes are to be left on the floor and no potatoes under the bed! She'll organise her time well and thus be profitably active every moment of the day!

Tidiness can be the dignity of the poor! A simple home can still be a palace when there is cleanliness, happiness and a fear of God! Altogether this will ensure an atmosphere of peace and cheerfulness.

Finally we've come to the economics of the home. A thrifty wife is a blessing for her family. Be assured, she surely will save her husband's earnings after all expenses have been covered.

Accordingly, she knows her three biggest enemies of the welfare of the home. These are a craving for alcohol, a love of worldly pleasures and being a `show off'!

Good Quality!

So there you are! Some good advice from an Oma from a previous century! She assures us that it's jolly good advice. After all, being an Oma, she does know best! Doesn't she? I remember with some nostalgia the years when we had our Omatje living with us. In those days they moved in with one of their daughters. Quite a character she was with a store of stories to listen to. Though interfering at times we loved and respected her!

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Faith in Focus / NZ Reformed Church / / Copyright 2001