The New Domesticity: An Old-Fashioned Evening


An ivory candle flickered on the end table. I leaned toward it, angling my book just so in order to let the light fall favorably upon the page. I had chosen a Louisa May Alcott story: it really seemed the right thing to do under the circumstances. Those circumstances were the hurricane-force winds that whipped through Vancouver in the late fall of 1995, leaving thousands without power.

I was 20 and living at home with my parents, sister, and brother. The problem of no power, however, just fueled our creativity, and we reveled in the novelty of “making do.” We scurried to light the house with candles and enjoyed an old-fashioned evening, complete with a roaring fire, hot chocolate and popcorn made over the woodstove, and whatever reading material or game happened to capture our fancy. Curled up on the sofa reading Alcott, I felt just like Jo March, ready for a lively evening of parlor games. My mom and I recall being almost sorry when the power came back on that night. Back to electric, high-speed productivity and efficiency!

Over 20 years later, the activities of today’s family are even more electric and high-speed. Yet these long November nights are just the ticket for slipping back in time and setting aside those electronics for an evening or two. In keeping with this year’s “literature inspired” themes, let’s look at the ways families have diverted themselves with simple past times. Specifically, what are some old-fashioned parlor games worth dusting off and revisiting with today’s family?

To read more, pick up a copy of the November 2017 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy here.

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About Author

Julianna Lawson and her husband, Jamie, make their home in Vancouver with their four children, ages 13 to 20.

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