Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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The Wise Use of Leisure

do the things you enjoyI am heading out on vacation tomorrow ~ taking a roadtrip with my crazy dog Frieda to New England. Since there is much traveling going on during these fine summer months, I decided to find some words on one of my favorite activities ~ leisure. This one is from a home ecomonics textbook entitled Everyday Living for Girls.

1936: The Wise Use of Leisure

What is meant by leisure? Is idleness leisure? Is leisure time for rest? Is leisure recreation? Is it time for mental growth? Is all of your time outside of school hours leisure? Is riding in the street car or walking to and from school part of your leisure? Is all of a business woman’s time, outside of her eight hours at the office, leisure time? Are there some activities which are part of a high school girl’s job or her day’s work, while they would be leisure time activities for a young business girl? . . . Does your mother have leisure time? What is your definition of leisure? . . .

Leisure means your right to choose. Leisure time is generally considered free time, when you do the things you enjoy, when you choose what you want to do. Nobody or no outside force causes you to do or act. It is the time when you are not doing dishes, making beds, doing homework, dressing, or washing out silk stockings. Practicing a musical instrument might or might not be a leisure time activity, according to whether you chose to do it for recreation, or were studying it vocationally. Leisure time might be spent in arranging flowers, or even in getting the living-room ready for a party. When you really enjoy doing something and choose to do it yourself, it is a leisure time activity. Eating may be a leisure time activity when one entertains, is entertained, or eats in an unusual place. “Eating one’s way through” New York, or Paris, or old New Orleans would be a holiday activity.

Do what you really enjoy. No one should tell another person how to spend his leisure time. Unless you may do what you like to do, it is not real leisure. Certainly, this book will not presume to tell you what to do. Rather, you write this discussion!

Source: Van Duzer, Adelaide Laura, et. al. Everyday Living for Girls. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1936.
~ pp. 447-48 ~

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