Using Aprons to Reminisce and Inspire

Aprons hanging on hooks

I remember aprons, those lovely, stained companions that mother wore so beautifully in the kitchen while she worked to make our family a meal.

Growing up, I can’t remember a time when my mom didn’t wear an apron while she was cooking big holiday meals. She wore aprons other times as well, but I mostly remember the special meals she cooked at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in her half aprons. She wore it to cover her nice clothes she wore for the holiday.

When I asked my mom about the aprons she wore and what she remembers, she reminisced about making an apron as a grade school project, probably back in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. It was made of three handkerchiefs and one yard of grosgrain ribbon. She still remembers that one handkerchief was left uncut, one was cut into two triangles and sewn on the sides of the full one. The third handkerchief was cut in half and used as the ruffle on the bottom. The ribbon was used as ties. It’s funny, I too made an apron in my home economics class in high school, which I still have. Aprons seem to be timeless.

Aprons are not a thing of the past.

It may seem that aprons are a thing of the past, but nothing can be further from the truth. Just look on line and you will see aprons and patterns for aprons for sale. And aprons are not just for women, men wear them as well, especially those that like to grill!  I use an apron in the kitchen to protect my clothing from my many splatters and spills while I cook and even sometimes when I sit down to eat. It works!

Here are some ways about how to use aprons with an older family member:

  • Some older folks do use adult bibs to protect their clothing while they eat. My grandmother used one, but wasn’t a fan of it. An apron might be a perfect alternative if they dislike using a bib. While there are half aprons, I do like the bib aprons to protect shirts, dresses, and pants.
  • Aprons come in all different colors, fabric, and sayings. While a man might enjoy a hunting or sports themed apron, a women might enjoy colorful flowers. Find out what your family member enjoys and try to find an apron that works for them. If you sew, there are many patterns available with an unlimited choice of fabrics at fabric stores.
  • Wearing an apron might give a family member a subtle hint or inspiration to help with some simple tasks in the kitchen. Helping in the kitchen helps give them a sense of purpose, an activity to enjoy, expose them to sensory (seeing, touching, eating, and smelling of foods), and a feeling of being together with other family members.
  • Reminiscing about aprons is fun activity. I’m sure many older adults will remember a mother, grandmother, or great grandmother wearing an apron of one sort or another. If you have aprons stored in a drawer, why not pull them out and take a look at them. It’s fun to see the many different kinds, like the ones in the picture above. Look at the fabric, the tatters, the stains, and how they were made. Years ago, many were home sewn.  Here are some reminiscing questions to ask:

*Do you remember wearing an apron?

*Do you remember your mother, grandmother, or another relative ever wearing an apron?

*When did you/they wear the apron? Each time you/they cooked, or other times?

*Did you ever make an apron? Did you buy one? Can you recall what the aprons looked like? Did any aprons have pockets?

*What did you/they use an apron for? Reminisce about the many uses you remember. 

Here are some uses that I remember to get you started:

-to cover clothes from food splatters while cooking

-to wipe off a dusty dish that hasn’t been used in awhile

-to dry a wet dish

-to dry hands on

-to use as a quick pot holder

-the pockets in the aprons were used to keep a handkerchief, or a button that fell off someone’s shirt, or a tomato picked from the garden for dinner.

Here is a link to a website and a wonderful poem about Grandma’s Apron. This poem by Tina Trivett can be read to a family member and also used to reminisce about aprons.

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