During Spring Break without the press of deadlines and grading and planning, I have the luxury of time for daily chores. These are routines really, the routines of chores. Somehow the chores are still accomplished during the hectic work year, but during my hiatus, I notice more and more, the comfort of chores. Instead of dashing here and there at home, I can slow down and enjoy the chores.
Doing chores reminds me of Tom in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when he surveys the overwhelming task of whitewashing the picket fence, “all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit.” But when Tom tricks the other boys into helping with the task, they enjoy it because they chose to do it. Tom learns, in Mark Twain’s own words,
“… work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”
-Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
That is what chores are during the school year…work…something a body is obliged to do. But in glorious break, the same chores are play because a body is not obliged to do them. So each day during break, I engage in the play of chores.
So, I may engage in the play of cooking. Leisurely, I scan through recipe books and choose just the right meal. Then, the chop, chop, chop, I cut up the vegetables. The rhythm is soothing; the act is therapeutic; the fragrance is enjoyable. I am taking time to create a meal for my family.
On another day, I may engage in the play of cleaning. How different this activity seems during break! No dread or loathing; today it is calming. As I tackle the clutter and sift through it piece by piece, the reward is the peace of organization; the sigh of knowing everything is in its place; the smile of accomplishment.
An endeavor for another day, I may engage in the play of washing. How different washing is during break than during the normal work day! Fly away frustration. Be gone impatience. The swish of the water is like the gentle sound of the breeze through the trees; the whirr of the spinning drum is like the humming of happy children. Satisfaction surrounds me as I carefully fold and put away socks and sheets and slips. Contentment wraps around me like a blanket on a cold day.
Play is only play for now. These chores may not seem so much like play someday soon, but for now, I am enjoying the slowed down pace of life. I am enjoying the play of chores.