I had a friend named Peg, who I teased because she always ironed her sheets, especially for her guests. “Why iron them? They’re only going to get all wrinkly right away…”
She looked at me sadly. “Don’t you iron your sheets? It makes them feel nice.” I thought she was borderline mad and/or OCD. She probably thought I was an ignoramus. Or at least uncultured. What can I say? My mum did minimal housework. I don’t think she ever ironed a sheet. Or much of anything.
I was thinking of Peg today, as I ironed my new-to-me curtains from the thrift store for my new apartment, and then hauled out my sheets and started ironing them. I wanted them to feel special for my first night in the new place. As I pressed them I thought about my new apartment, how much I’m looking forward to living downtown, how my image of “life in a garret” is finally coming true (though only at the second floor level). And then, because ironing cotton sheets takes a long time, I thought of Peg, and our breakfasts at Denny’s where we’d ask for extra hash browns, and all the laughs we shared. I thought of my cousin Marie-Danielle who taught me about lavender and linen ironing spray and made my work ironing so gorgeous-smelling. And I thought of our shopping trips to Merrickville and how we found so many fun things to gaze at and dream about.
And then I thought of the people I’d ironed sheets for, those who visited me. I ironed them for my sons (sometimes). I ironed them for my sister. And I ironed them for others…
Ah, I thought, this is the reason for the ironing. It gives you time to think about friends and family while you are creating order from chaos. My sheets, imperfectly ironed as they are, are waiting for my first night home, smooth and clean and special.
And the simple domestic act of ironing soothed my heart and my soul.
I’m not a complete convert, though. I didn’t iron the fitted bottom sheet. What do you think I am, crazy?
Maybe I should try this…