The man who will forever embody the character of Gilbert Blythe for a generation of women–actor Jonathan Crombie–died last week.
And Anne of Green Gables fans everywhere, me included, spent the weekend in the depths of despair.
Reminiscing about Gil and Anne brought to mind some ways in which Anne of Green Gables taught me about being a homemaker.
I find it interesting how my favorite female characters from childhood–Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jo March, Anne–all foreshadowed some of my personal coming-into-who-I-really-am awakening of my 30s.
Last year, I wrote about what Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman taught me about being a homemaker.
But Anne will always be my favorite leading literary lady.
I was 12, and I watched in awe.
I have no idea how I went from its debut in 1985 until 1992 without seeing the mini series Anne of Green Gables, but somehow I had missed it.
In fact, I had never even heard of the novel until then either.
But I remember sitting in my 6th grade classroom in jaw-dropping amazement: This literary character, this Anne with an “e,” was just.like.me.
And I had never met anyone else quite like me. At the time, I thought myself strange compared to the other kids.
They liked to play; my nose was always stuck in a book.
They embraced reality; my head stayed in the clouds with endless imaginations.
They all had brown hair; I was the lone redhead in my family, my school, my life.
After watching both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea movies, I devoured the entire series of novels by L.M. Montgomery.
From the depth of her emotion to her endless chatter to her clumsiness and determination to rise above her circumstances, I identified with Anne, my first true kindred spirit.
As I’ve grown into my role of a homemaker over the past few years, I can now see lessons I’ve learned about homemaking from my beloved Anne with an “e”–even before I realized I was soaking in attributes that I would take into adulthood.
What Anne of Green Gables Taught Me About Being a Homemaker
1. A homemaker can have brains.
Anne was smart. She and Gilbert rivaled each other for the top spot in their class in school and later in college as well.
And she didn’t stop thinking for herself even after she became a homemaker in the later novels that chronicled her married life with Gilbert.
Homemakers can get a bad rap for having no brains, but it just isn’t true!
2. A homemaker can do more than keep house.
Anne was a teacher and a writer.
Even though she didn’t write many short stories after she had children, according to L.M. Montgomery’s final Anne novel, the little-known The Blythes are Quoted, Anne continued writing poetry.
She also served on various women’s committees.
3. A homemaker can ask for help.
In the later Anne of Green Gables novels, Anne’s domestic duties come with the aid of a live-in maid, Susan Baker.
Now, we live in a different day and time than Anne did–and very few of us can afford live-in maids (I know I can’t!), but this shows me that Anne knew when to ask for help.
In a time when homemakers like to feign that we can do it all, it’s important to remember that we can’t.
Asking for help isn’t just a good idea; it can be vital to the well-being of our homes!
4. It’s never too late to learn how to be a homemaker.
For the most part, Anne was raised in children’s homes before moving to Green Gables.
Yes, she learned how to help care for children during her time living with other families, but she felt a bit out of touch with other domestic skills when she arrived under Matthew and Marilla’s roof.
Whether it be learning to distinguish raspberry cordial from currant wine or remembering to cover the plum pudding with a cheese cloth, Anne learned from her mistakes.
What I learned from Anne about being a homemaker…. That even a STRONG WILLED woman can follow her man!!!
Absolutely!! Love it!
Katie Mae @ Nourishing Simplicity
I LOVE this Erin! I think you made up for lost time with how much you embrace the books and movies. I saw the movies for the first time when I was 4 and had the first couple books read to me before I turned 8. Someday I WILL go to P.E.I.!!!!
I have read the books; I have never been much of a movie follower or series follower. In the books, I never saw Anne as much of a homemaker; Susan Baker seemed to run the home for her. I see her character more as a mother figure. I recently reread Rainbow Valley and Rilla of single side, and Anne is more of secondary main character with Susan Baker being the main character especially with being the queen of the kitchen and doing the housework and gardening.
Aw I’ve never heard of these. Wish these had movies!
I never get tired of watching this series. I watched it for the first time when I was about 10 and I have been hooked ever since. I have learned about homemaking through Anne that even if you don’t act cookie cutter perfect you can still have a big impact on the ones that care about u.
I just wrote about Jonathon Crumble too – I’m so sad about his death. I came to get your twitter handle because I am LOVING your mini-series. I am a complete mess so this is helping me tons, and my husband is excited too. 🙂
Oops! I messed up his name. I should have checked. (I should have called him Gilbert Blythe).
It taught me that home is a place where you are accepted and loved. Matthew and Marilla accepted Anne for who she was always. Especially growing up. She made all kinds of mistakes including turning her hair green. They tried to show her how to learn from it and move forward.
This is slightly off-topic but thought I’d mention it to any non-Canadians who love Anne of Green Gables, that we have another show here in Canada called Road to Avonlea that you would probably all enjoy. So it takes place in Avonlea (where Green Gables is) and although it follows different characters that live there, characters from Anne of Green Gables do make appearances such as Anne, Marilla, Rachel Lynde etc. Just thought I’d mention it in case anyone wants to check it out. And yes, I am very sad over Jonathon Crombie’s passing. I always had such a crush on Gilbert. He and Anne are like top celebrities here in Canada! I would love to travel to P.E.I. one day to see Green Gables in person!
Oh my goodness I LOVED Anne when I was growing up! I recently found the books for free on Kindle (or iBooks… one of those!) and rekindled my love. I love this post. Thank you for sharing.
Anna @ Feminine Adventures
I had just planned an “Anne of Green Gables” night with my sisters and then saw on FB that Gil had died. So sad! What a lovely post.
Anne taught me to stick to my guns and stand up for what’s right. She was not one to back down.
I used to wish I had red hair like hers (even though she didn’t care for it herself). And Gil…was the perfect man.
I really agree with number three, homemakers can ask for help. Sometimes we want to think we can do it all. We feel bad if we ask others to help, because then it is like we are admitting we aren’t good enough for the task.
Thanks for the reminder of this.
I think for many of us Anne and the miniseries showed us an alternative version of family, and that blood ties are strong but friendships and love is stronger and affection is what really makes a family. By far one of the most precious film adaptions of any classic!
Anne taught me that everyone has trials and heartbreak but she always picked herself up – even when it most difficult and bleak – and carried on for the others in her life.
We also see her humility when she realized how wrong she had been about Gilbert. We see her desire to help others in the way that she cares for Leslie in Anne’s House of Dreams. We see the beautiful way that she grieves with Matthew, with her miscarriage, and even the loss of her beloved Walter in the war. Can you tell I love this Anne-girl?
Anne taught me not to be afraid of being myself. I first read the series as a third grader, and I read through the series once a year throughout my elementary and junior high years. She made me not afraid to be bookish. I didn’t know a soul who loved those books as much as I did until I reached college, but I didn’t care. I was like Anne so at least she was my kindred spirit.
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
One lesson Anne of Green Gables teaches is that families are made, not born. No one could have parented, or loved, Anne more or better than Matthew and Marilla.
Oh I have loved Anne and her stories for years! There have been many lessons, but one of them includes the importance of friendship, while my responsibilities as wife and mother and homemaker are important, my duty to my friends must also stay on my radar. Friendships are special and should be treated as such. We are not meant to go through this life alone. Thank you so much for sharing this!
I would watch it again and again we all still love it, my girls grow up on it and they have found shops that still stock it
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Almost a year later and I come across this article and your blog.
I LOVE ANNE and you may have have inspired me to read the series again. Ive always thought that Anne and I would be kindred spirits .
I want to re-read it too! I love Anne so, so much!
Thanks so much for this post. I needed a reminder of Anne’s resilience. It is important to stay strong and determined. I am a huge Anne fan and would highly recommend visiting Prince Edward Island. It is a great vacation spot for families and there are tons of Anne related things to do!
It is the #1 place I want to visit! It would be a dream vacation!
In this age of rush , it’s wonderful to imagine Anne and Matilda baking and the aroma of those delicacies filling a home. There is so much more to homemaking than chores. It is doing small things with great love.
Never despise small beginnings, whether it is art from your children or your first homemade bread.
A home is a unique and wonderful shelter for your family and yourself and is as loverly as your heart reflections .?
Nancy of the mountains.
Anne thought me that being a dreamer is alright, and what a blessing it is to find a husband, that can ground you, when your dreams make you soar to high, so that you almost forget to live in the now. I am known for getting lost in my imagination sometimes.
Oh and Anne and Marilla thought me… To label EVERYTHING and keep “non-child-friendly” food and beverages, on the top shelves!
Mrs. Lynde taught me to take care on my own home tasks before I try and meddle in other’s affairs. Seeing how I can never finish my own tasks like Rachel Lynde, I have learned to mind my own business.