Ironing is just another way to show you care

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sometimes I feel as if I am the last person in the world who is still ironing. When I ask friends how often or how much they iron, they usually give me a curious stare and tell me that they have not had their irons out in months or even years.

Still, I know that a few people are ironing as I meet them in the housewares department in front of the display of irons. We discuss the pros and cons of various models of irons, and lament about the irons that leak water, or are too heavy to hold comfortably. I feel as if I am having a conversation with a kindred spirit when I can discuss irons. Of course, I go through a lot of irons as I iron almost everything.

Socks and underpants

Email newsletter signup

When Mark and I got married his mother gave me instructions on his care. She told me that he liked his socks and underpants ironed and told me to be very careful with his uniform shirts. I listened carefully. Then she went on to share family recipes of things that Mark especially liked to eat like toad-in-the-hole, leg of lamb with fresh rosemary, orange marmalade and Christmas pudding. I looked at the recipes, but have never gotten around to making any of them.

The dreaded area

I once visited a friend for a weekend and she had an entire room filled with things that need to be ironed. There were blouses on a chair, piles of un-ironed items on the bed. It was such a distressing sight that I remember just closing the door, and I did not even ask her about the dreaded room. But I am still thinking about the room, and I wonder if she ever managed to get caught up.

I sort of have my own dreaded area now too. When I wash clothes, I hang them all up in a closet. That is my “to be ironed” clothes closet. The closet gets fuller and fuller, and Mark starts wondering where his clothes are. That is when I know it is time to zip into ironing mode. I know that it will take me hours and hours to iron everything so I procrastinate further. By the way, I am no longer ironing socks or underpants, don’t iron sheets, but do iron pillowcases. I have even been known to throw out blouses that wrinkle so badly that they require endless amounts of ironing.

My biggest problem is that I love the way cotton feels. It is cool in the summer, which is a priority for me, as I hate to feel hot. I have discovered no-iron cotton blouses, and they come out of the wash relatively unwrinkled, but still do require ironing. I have tried the various blends of fabrics that don’t require ironing, but never feel comfortable in them. Fortunately most of the clothes I wear to the gym are made of material that can be washed and not ironed.

Tragic consequences

I had a friend who was a gym teacher, and he took ironing to the next level. He came from a family of sisters who all had long curly hair. Each morning they would put their hair on an ironing board to straighten their curls to obtain perfectly straight hair.

My friend watched them do this on a daily basis and started to think that he would like straight hair too. The only problem was that he had short curly hair, but he did not consider that an obstacle to getting the straight hair that he wanted. He simply put the hot iron up to his head, but instead of getting straight hair, he burned his scalp and was left with a permanent bald spot. It was the first thing I noticed when I met him. He had curly red hair, but also had this strange iron shaped bald patch on the side of his head. I did not discuss the pros and cons of ironing with him!

I’ve never ironed my head, but I have ironed a lot of clothes. Once someone said to me that I looked so well pressed that I must have spent hours ironing the blouse I had on. There could be no greater compliment!

Joanne Wilkinson is a retired teacher and Oxford resident. You can reach her at