Happy Golden Years

Fifty years ago today, December 17, 1967, the romance that started outside a laundromat in Valdosta, Georgia began a new adventure as my Mama and Daddy said, “I do.”

And they did.  Sickness.  Health.  Laughter.  Pain.  Joy.  Grief.  Children.  Grandchildren.  Other children whom they called their own.  Friends.  Family.  Biscuits. Gravy.  Pound Cake.  Fried Cornbread.  Homemade Pizza.  Cars. Trucks.  Books.  Celebrations.  Mourning.  Everyday Life filled with Extraordinary Moments.

And even though their time together on this earth ended six years ago, I know they are together today, and I hope they are doing what they loved to do most on this day–spending time together, enjoying the journey.  On their anniversaries, Daddy would take the day off from work, and they would go on an adventure of sorts.  Traveling on backroads, eating in diners and restaurants they’d come across along the way.   Meeting interesting folks who would become lifelong friends.

Since 2013 after Mama left this world, I’ve had the joy of continuing their tradition of sharing books with young people we know.  In honor of their anniversary, I’ve chosen different books as our Christmas Book of the Year.  This year, I’ve chosen a very special one that ties an old memory to a new one.

This past summer the littles, the Fella, and I got to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.   Growing up I read the Little House books and loved my weekly time with Laura and her family on “Little House on the Prairie.”  I was “fangirling” pretty hard.  The. Home.  Of.  Laura.  Ingalls.  Wilder.  Where she lived.  Wrote her books.  Raised Rose.  Oh my stars, I was over the moon.  But as excited as I was, it was wonderful to see that our Princess was even more so.  She had read and reread all of the books in the past year.  She loved them.

During our time there, we saw Pa’s fiddle and photos and letters from Laura’s sisters.  There were letters schoolchildren had written to Mrs. Wilder, asking about the people she wrote about or thanking her for writing them.  The museum part was fascinating, as we took our time wandering around, reading and looking and soaking it all in.  But it was when we went to her home, the one that Almanzo built by hand, one room at a time, that I felt the spirit of the place.  Neither of them were very tall, so the home suited me and my short height just fine.  I loved that she continued using her old stove, even after Rose had an electric one put in.  Sometimes change is hard, y’all, and just not worth the bother.  As a child I had fallen in love with the young Laura.  This past summer, standing in her home, surrounded by her things, I fell in love and in awe of the grown Laura, the strong woman who didn’t want anyone to know she loved to read Westerns, and whose last birthday cards were still sitting on the table in her kitchen, as she passed on right around her birthday.  That was my favorite part of the whole adventure.  Soaking in her world in her little farmhouse.  The other house we visited that Rose had built for her parents as a gift when she was an adult did not compare.  It was lovely, but it just didn’t have the same feel, the same homeyness, the same spirit.

As I wandered through the farmhouse, enjoying the stories that our tour guide shared, I was reminded of a Christmas in my own home, many years ago.

I believe it was Christmas 1989, my senior year in college.  My dear friend had come home with me for a day or two before heading home to Alabama.  We had slept through the night to be awakened early the next morning by the ringing of jingle bells.  My friend, my siblings, and I all went to the living room where we found a sock for each one of us.  A long knee high sock I believe, filled with good things–like an orange, a giant peppermint stick, a penny, an orange in the toe, and the matching sock balled up inside as well.  It was left there by, as the note said, “The Christmas Spirit of 1889.”

I probably laughed it off as my parents and their whimsical ways in the moment, but inside I loved it.  I love all things old and traditional, and as far as I was concerned, this was perfect.  Everything about it.  I’m not really sure what prompted my Mama and Daddy to keep Christmas like that that year.  Maybe they wanted to remind us that simple joy is at the heart of Christmas–that the simple joys are the treasured memories we will carry in our hearts for a long, long time.

Just as I have the memory of the sock filled with goodies, nearly 30 years ago.

So when I sat down to choose a book to share this holiday season, I found it almost instantly.  In memory of that Christmas 28 years ago and our adventure “home” this past summer, our family Christmas book this year is “Christmas in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The illustrator, Renee’ Graef, shared that her artwork was inspired by the work of the talented Garth Williams with his permission.  It’s a sweet story about the excitement of the holiday season and the greatest joy of all–being together.

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Tonight I’m thankful for the love of two people that grew to touch so many–our family and friends and folks they met along the way.  A love that was joined together forever fifty years ago tonight.  I’m thankful for their quirkiness and how they reminded us of what is really important all those Christmases ago.  And I’m thankful for the privilege and thrill of standing where some of the world’s favorite stories–I know they are some of mine–were put on paper for all of us to enjoy.

May the simple joys of this Christmas season bring you grand memories that you will treasure for years to come.  Love to all.

 

 

A Little Golden Kind of Christmas Story

Forty-nine years ago today my parents said “I do” because they did and that was the beginning of a fantastic journey full of brilliant, simple moments and more love than one house could hold.  Forty-nine years ago right now, I believe they were warming up some Pepsi or some such because they’d heard that it was delicious.  I tried to wrap my brain around the idea of them, newlyweds, in the kitchen in their little rented home in Valdosta, Georgia standing over the stove with grins they couldn’t wipe off their faces (at least I would imagine so), and I never thought to ask if it was any good.

I would think probably not, since they never made it in the years that I can recall.

Still.

That love.  Those two people who loved each other, loved others–

I miss them.

They especially loved little ones.  And books.  I’ve shared before how in the later years they’d choose a special book or two to share around the holidays.  As a comfort and way to connect with them after Mama passed on in 2013, I attempted to continue the tradition.  Some years it’s been easy to find a book right off.  Others it took longer.  This year was the latter.  Most definitely the latter.  I tested some, read lots, but none felt completely right.  And again, I found myself drawn to books about trees.  Which makes sense really, since going out to Granny’s farm, traipsing through the woods, and finding our very own Christmas tree all those years are some of my favorite holiday memories.

So this year I tried not to pick out a Christmas tree story.  That was proving difficult, and I had set this past Wednesday as my personal deadline.  Wednesday morning Aub and I sat with a stack of Christmas books and looked through them.  Then…..I found it.

I vaguely remembered Mama’s excitement at finding this book a few years back.  I thought and dug through my memory banks that I expect are getting to be like what my Granddaddy described as Fibber McGee’s closet, and I kept coming up with my sweet cousin for some reason.  So while Aub looked up my Mama’s Amazon account record, I texted my cousin.  Sure enough, she’d given it to my cousin a few years ago.  Appropriate.  Perfect for her actually.  However, I was sad.  I really love this book!

So I continued searching.  Aub left for work, and I started to read on my own.  I found two I liked, but I still couldn’t choose.  Then it hit me–maybe I should bring my littles in on this year’s choice.  They know about the tradition, and as it turns out, they were tickled to help choose.

I think they chose well.

So our Princess, Cooter, and I are thrilled to announce this year’s choice for Maemae’s Christmas book.

It really is perfect.  I have such happy memories of Little Golden Books growing up.  Those gold edges and perfectly same-sized books–hard covers and beautiful, colorful illustrations–we had quite a few sitting on our book shelf…..waiting to be taken down and read again and again.  Some of those same ones grace my shelves now.  But not this one.  I was thrilled to find it, as I’d not read it before.  I love the sweet stories and poems, especially the one about the animals and people’s reactions to “no snow.”  But what tickled me the most was Cooter’s reaction to the story about the little squirrel.  Read it.  See if you can figure out at what moment he said, “UH OH” out loud–concerned that things were about to go awry.  I don’t want to spoil it, but that was Cooter’s favorite part of the book.

I highly recommend both of these books.  I also recommend the other book (which our Princess especially loved).  It is a sweet story of a strong woman who makes a difference in our world with her caring, strength, and ingenuity.  A great story not just for the holidays but everyday, right?


What are your favorite holiday and Christmas stories?  I would love to hear about them.

I hope your holidays are filled with hours and hours of enjoyment and good books to read, but most importantly, I hope these days are filled with the living out of your own great story.

Merry memory-making!

Love to all.

 

Hairy Feet and Cool Clothes

Cooter closed the last page of his book and sighed.

“If my feet were hairy, I could have been a Hobbit.”

Oh my land, that boy.  Only 8 years old and the things that come out of his mouth never fail to surprise me.  And have me bursting out with laughter.

He continued, “I have really great clothes too.”

“Wait. What? Hobbits have really great clothes?!”

With a serious look on his face, he nodded, “Yes’m.  They really do.”

Then he added, “‘Course I’d need a tiny little knife too, to be a Hobbit.”

Before I could say anything, his sister, our Princess, spoke up,  “Nooooo.  No.” She shook her head and waved her hands.  “Let’s just leave that in the idea box.  No need to take it out of there at all.”   She looked at me, and mouthed, “No sharp knives.”

Cooter vehemently spouted, “I didn’t say sharp.  I said ‘tiny, little.’  I need one to be a Hobbit.”

“Well, that and hairy feet, right?” I reminded him.

“Yesssss,” he sighed again.

Life is hard, y’all.

The version of The Hobbit we found for Cooter to read.  He really enjoyed it.

The version of The Hobbit we found for Cooter to read. He really enjoyed it.

My little guy wanted to read “The Hobbit,” so we found a version that suited him perfectly.  He loved it all, motivated as well by the promise that he could watch the animated version once he finished reading it.  He had been quite enthusiastic until he got close to the end, when he said, “This is NOT a good book.”

“Wait a minute, I thought you loved it.”

He then shared about the demise of one of his favorite characters (but this is a no-spoiler kind of blog, so that’s all I’m saying about THAT), and it was obvious that he was trying not to cry.

I love books.  Have I mentioned that before?

And I love my children.

And I love that my children love books.

So this movie was viewed and critiqued and enjoyed tonight.  ("Mama, that's not how the book went!")

So this movie was viewed and critiqued and enjoyed tonight. (“Mama, that’s not how the book went!”)

Tonight may you all dream the big dreams–and always be yourself.  Unless you can be a Hobbit, then ALWAYS be a Hobbit.  Because hairy feet are apparently in, and they have really cool clothes. Or so I’m told.  #BilboWannabeOverHere

Love to all.

If You Need a Timeturner…..

Last week Cooter hit another milestone.  He has been reading this same book off and on for a couple of months.  A little bit at the time, minus the several days in there when he thought he had lost the book.  (I believe it was found in his abandoned “Indiana Jones” backpack.)

Cooter finished reading “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Cooter's very own copy from our favorite local used bookstore.

Cooter’s very own copy from our favorite local used bookstore.

Y’all.  The excitement in our house when he finished–it was palpable.

His oldest sister grew up with the books and movies.  She was able to watch the movies as they came out because she grew up with the characters.  Her siblings do not have that luxury, because all the movies were made long before they had even heard of Harry Potter.

To slow down the requests of the littles to watch the movies, I’ve invoked the rule as Headmaster of Zoo Crew Academy that one must read the book in full before watching the movie.  (Being Headmaster is cool like that.)

So you can see why he was so excited.  He was ready to watch that movie.

I am excited because he is reading so well.  His handwriting might still look like chicken scratch that only he and I can interpret, but by golly, my boy can read.

I’ll take it.

He had to wait a day for his big sister to come home from college.  They had agreed to watch it together.  I’m glad it was only a day.  As it was the littles were just about camped out at the end of the road, waiting for her arrival.  When she got here, they were thrilled.

It was everything they had imagined and then some.  They loved it.  And it was so rewarding for them to know they’d earned it by reading the books first.  I love hearing their conversations comparing the book and movie.  It was hilarious when our Princess got frustrated with me because I forgot something that had happened.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read the book and seen the movie.

At the first of this week, I was discussing scheduling of a couple of potential summer activities.  Our Princess was standing there, and she heard me trying to figure out if two things would be at the same time.

“Oh that’s no problem, Mama. I can just get a timeturner and use it.”

Bless her.  She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwart’s too.  She will, after all, be eleven this year.

A timeturner is a device used in the third book by one of the main characters who has more than one class scheduled at the same time.  With this necklace she is able to go back in time and take the classes at the same time.  So to speak.

When my girl suggested that she might need one (and was totally okay with that, I might add), it hit me like a cold, wet rag in the face.

Wait.

I turned to her.  “Baby girl, if we need a timeturner to get it all done, we have too much on our schedule.”

I think I was telling this to myself too.

As the excitement of wrapping up the school year grows and my oldest moves back home for the summer, I see all of these wonderful options and projects and things that would be great popping up–on newsfeeds, in emails, on flyers.  And while I don’t intend to hole up all summer in my Roost with a stack of books close by (oh my, give me just a minute–I went to another place for a moment *sigh*), I don’t think we need to sign up for all the things this summer.  So many good things out there, but so many good things can turn into a stress-filled summer of staying in the road and on the go.  While I’m proud our Princess is a problem solver, I am not happy that she thinks running hither and yon is the norm.

Oh me.  I think we all need a stay-cation.

As we all come upon the good things out there, let us remember it’s only good if we still have some empty space in our day to dailies. To breathe.  To visit.  To simply be.  There might just be such as thing as too much good.

And may we, none of us, ever need a timeturner to do the things that fill our hearts and feed our souls.

Love to all.

Cooter's motto most days, I'm pretty sure.  :)

Cooter’s motto most days, I’m pretty sure, that little mischief maker. 🙂

Learning from a Bear

The littles and I have been reading A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond.  In anticipation of the movie, don’t you know.

Because I am THAT parent.  The one who treks all over trying to find a copy of the original book.  (Speak to me of the “movie adaptations,” and I may not be able to look at you the same way–or at all–ever again.  #booksnob)

And the one who has us reading it BEFORE we go see the movie.  After all, that’s what it says to do right there on the cover.

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Finding the original was harder than I thought it would be.  The on-line megastore was sold out; they said it would take weeks to deliver.  Our local bookstore sold out every time a copy came in.

We finally saw one behind the cash register as we were checking out at the other bookstore in town, and no one had claimed it.

So we did.

We’ve been reading it a chapter at a time.  We were all excited because there are only 8 chapters.  We thought we could zip on through it.  But the chapters are very long, so it’s taking us a little longer than we anticipated.  We are enjoying our time reading aloud to each other though.  In the car, at home–it’s an amusing story.  And precious.  I laughed out loud over the spelling of “Modom” when the store salesman snootily addressed Mrs. Brown.  I could hear his tone perfectly.

Today it was my turn to read aloud.  Poor Paddington.  He was in quite a pickle.  He just got this new overcoat that he was quite thrilled about, but when he bent over the hood covered up his face.  Only he thought the lights had gone out.  So he headed towards what he believed to be the door and wound up in the window display, knocking everything over.  When he realized what had happened, he said, “Oh dear. I’m in trouble again.”  He realized that some people, most likely a lot of people would be cross.  And then he thought–

“People weren’t very good at having things explained to them, 

and it was going to be difficult explaining how his duffle coat hood had fallen over his head.”*

Bless him.  And he’s right, isn’t he?

How often do I jump to conclusions and start my ranting?  Rarely taking the time to let someone explain…..

Over spilled cups, broken toys, things missing, unlocked doors, locked doors, things not picked up, assignments not done…..

Oh me, Paddington, I’m one of THOSE people.

And I’m sorry.

Tonight I’m thankful for time reading with my littles.  I look forward to seeing the movie with them. I just hope we finish it in time.  It seems like movies come and go so quickly from the theaters these days.

I’m also thankful for books published almost sixty years ago that still have important things to say to us today.  I give thanks for the little bear with the hat that is his best so he doesn’t want a new one, and for my children’s innocent laughter over the things he says and does. (A bear who loves bacon and tucks it in his case to take along for the day?  Who wouldn’t love him, right?)

Most of all, I am grateful for a little bear who touched my heart and softened it a bit today.  I want to be the patient one so very badly.  I want to be one who listens first and reacts second.  I am afraid I have a long way to go though.

Wishing for us all a patient and listening heart and mind…..after all, hoods that fall over faces, that sort of thing could happen to anyone…..

Love to all.

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*Love this story by Michael Bond, copyrighted 1958.  To read more about it or order your own copy, click here.

An Anniversary, ee cummings, and Christmas

December 17, 1967.

It was forty-seven years ago that my parents said their I do’s and joined their lives forever.   With close friends and family present, and Mama’s best friend from school and my Daddy’s Daddy standing up beside them, they joined hands and hearts and stories.

Forever.

I’m convinced they are up at the House sitting on the back porch, side by side.  Mama will reach out her hand as they watch the beautiful sunset and Daddy will take it.  And though it might be quiet between them, they love each other more than any two people I’ve ever met.

They loved children–their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.  They loved all children.  They kept copies of “Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm” by the Provensens in the trunk of their car to give to children or parents they met whom they thought might enjoy reading it.  Daddy sometimes carried Matchbox cars in his pockets to share with little boys and girls he came across, especially at the doctor’s offices.  When he left this world, he left quite a few he’d collected yet to be shared.  He loved cars and children just that much.

The last few years before Mama passed, she enjoyed picking out Christmas or winter stories for the children in her life. Last year, our first Christmas without her, I decided to carry on that tradition–the picking out of the holiday story.

I really enjoyed myself, and I was so happy when I found the right book and felt like Mama was there, giving my choice a thumbs up.  (Patricia Polacco’s “Uncle Vova’s Tree”)

This year I started earlier, reading and searching for just the right book.  I found several good ones.  My crew have really enjoyed the daily readings in “The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Christmas Story for Advent.”  But what one story would wrap up all the joy and delight and emotions of this Christmas season?

This past weekend I found out that my Aub, home from college, has a newfound love of ee cummings.  Sunday evening I took a few minutes to reacquaint myself with his poetry.  As I was reading some of his work, I found one he wrote called “Little Tree,” which has been published more than once as a children’s story.  I found a copy illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, and it called out to me.

Could it be?  Could this be the book for this year?

My copy arrived today.

I had already read the poem, and it touched my heart, but when put together with Ms. Ray’s warm and whimsical illustrations, it became a new favorite.

Just like that.

The littles and I read it together.  When we finished, they both sat still for a moment.  I asked if they liked it.  Both nodded.  Our Princess said, “It’s really almost like a Christmas poem, isn’t it?  It’s so beautiful.”

Yes.  Yes it is, as a matter of fact.  On both accounts.

We hunted for our Christmas trees in the woods on my Granny’s farm most of the years I was growing up.  Such great memories of beautiful afternoons wandering around, finding one we liked, but continuing on just to be sure. And then trying to find our way back to the one we’d chosen at the very beginning.  Daddy was so patient with us.  We never chose the “perfect” trees as there was an unspoken understanding that those belonged to the animals and the woods.  (Well, maybe I did speak it a time or two when someone dared to suggest us getting that perfect one.)  We usually looked for the ones that the deer had rubbed their antlers on.  Daddy taught us how to look for those trees, and he told us there was a chance that those wouldn’t make it.  So we chose one of those each year–we called them corner trees, which was perfect since we always put our tree in the corner of our living room.

Perfectly imperfect.  And every year Mama would say it was the prettiest tree yet.

That made me happy.  And I was quite sure it made the tree happy too.  Daddy taught me the word anthropomorphism many years ago, and it suits me.  I like to think that the trees have feelings and are happy or sad to be chosen or not.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons that ee cummings’ poem spoke to me.  I’m sure it was, but when I read the line–“and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy”–my heart was home.

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from “Little Tree” by ee cummings and Deborah Kogan Ray

 

Yes.

This beautiful book will find its way onto our shelf after the 12 days of Christmas, but it won’t be forgotten throughout the year.  This timeless poem turned children’s book is one that can bring back memories whenever it is opened and read. It is too lovely to be tucked away for very long, dreaming of when it might be able to share its story once again.

Tonight I’m thankful for this story I found (thanks Aub!) which brought back memories that were such a big part of my Christmas each year.  Those tree hunts with Daddy were a tradition I love and dearly miss.  I am also thankful for the story that began 47 years ago tonight, celebrated after all had gone home over cups of warm Pepsi, because they had heard it was so good.  I give thanks for the two who loved us and taught us and encouraged us.  And I’m thankful for their love of books and generous spirits.  They left some mighty big shoes to fill.  While I cannot fill those shoes myself, I can walk along the path they left, and do my best to live up to whom they raised me to be.

Happy Anniversary to my parents, and Happy Everyday, as my Mama would say, to everyone!

May today be a day that you will always remember joyfully in the years to come.

Love to all.

 

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I will be giving away a copy of the book “Little Tree” by ee cummings to a lucky reader.  The winner will be chosen randomly at 12:01 a.m. EST on December 18th.  To enter, comment below with your favorite Christmas book or like the “I Might Need a Nap” Facebook page and comment on this post on that page.  For handwriting practice for the week I will have the littles write your names down, put them in a hat, and we’ll let Miss Sophie draw out the name.  I will send the book out to the winner on Thursday, and it should arrive before Christmas, barring anything unforeseen happening.  Good luck!  Only one entry per person please.  

More of the story of the two who became one can be read here.

Rainy Day Reading

It’s been a lovely, perfectly dreary rainy day today.

And I have loved it.

Days like this are perfect for reading, something I haven’t taken time out to do enough of  lately.

So, after I hung the cheerful twinkly lights across my back porch, which is my roost and sanctuary, I sat down to read.

And I read three books.  In a row.

Yep.  THREE.

I know, I couldn’t get over myself either.  Here I’ve been unable to really focus and read much of anything, and I go and read three books in a row.

*insert selfie high-five and pat on the back for me here*

Yep.  Yay me.

Oh, wait–did I mention they were children’s books?

Ah, well.  Ahem.

Yes.

Three wonderful books related to Thanksgiving.  They were all great stories. Well written, beautifully illustrated.  I loved each one, and if you can find them at your library or have time to go to the bookstore, you will want to read these too.  I just know it.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I am sure I frustrated my Mama on more than one occasion because I was more worried about not missing my favorite performer than I was about helping her in the kitchen.  It just wasn’t Thanksgiving if I didn’t get to wave to Santa on the small black and white TV we had all those many years ago.

Now it’s the same.  I love watching it with my children.  I’m a little busier these days than I was back then, but I do love that parade.  The history, the wonderful floats and balloons.  And then I found this book and read it today, and I do declare it just made it all the more special for me.  This is the story of the puppeteer, Tony Sarg, who was asked by Macy’s to build puppets to be featured in the very first parade, alongside animals from the Central Park Zoo.  And as the crowds got bigger, Mr. Sarg had to make his puppets bigger so they could be seen above the heads of others.  A true story with great illustrations and facts galore.  I can’t wait to sit and read this with the littles and then watch it all click on Thursday.

This book tells the related story of why the parade was first begun.  It’s a fictionalized account, as the “real” Mr. Macy had died years before this story is set, but even with poetic license, this book does a beautiful job of talking about heritage and remembering who your people are and what their traditions were.  I love the spirit and the joy in this book.  And Milly let loose in Macy’s–how much fun would that be?  I’ve often said I’d like to go to New York City for 24 hours.  Only. (But I’d prefer to travel the ol’ wriggling of the nose method…..or floo powder, thank you very  much.)  Looking at the window displays in Macy’s and walking around inside would definitely make the “must do” list.

The last book I read today was the true story of how Thanksgiving almost wasn’t.  Did you know about this?  I am sure the turkeys, just like the one on the cover, are not happy one bit with Sarah Hale, the woman who wrote many, many letters over 38 years, asking that Thanksgiving become a nationally recognized day.  It was actually President Lincoln, in the middle of the turmoil and chaos of the war, who finally said yes.

This true story is told with a clever sense of humor.  I laughed out loud when I read this line.

“Never underestimate dainty little ladies.”  –Laurie Halse Anderson

I think I want this quote framed and hung, because there is more truth than a little bit in it.  Anyone who ever met my Mama knows that.

This book also had lots of interesting facts we shall feast on together tomorrow.  One little tidbit, Sarah Hale is the author of the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  Ms. Hale taught school and a student actually had a lamb follow her to school and wait for her all day.   The book also touches on Ms. Hale’s advocacy for education for women–wonder if she ever visited Wesleyan?–and her stance on women’s rights in general.  A great story that I didn’t know before.

 

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite days of the year.  I love pie.  So there’s that–boy, do I love pie.  My Granny’s sweet potato with coconut, my Great Great Aunt’s Buttermilk custard–I miss them all.  And I miss my Mama’s dressing.  She would bake cornbread and let Daddy eat a little bit–but there were no leftovers for him to have the next day.  It went in the freezer for the dressing later on.  I think she started saving it a couple of months out.  That and breadcrumbs.

But I digress.  What I love the most is the being together.  The warmth, the stories, the memories being made.  This year we will be back at Blackberry Flats for the first time in years, and it will be quite wonderful–I’ve already decided.  The children will climb trees, and the grownups will talk, football will be on, and naps and third helpings are a given.

This year will be quite special as always, but thanks to the stories we are going to read and talk about this week, I think it will be even more so.  I can’t wait to hear their laughter over the illustrations and lines about dainty women being a force to reckon with.

Mama always encouraged us to be thankful every moment, every day, but I am grateful that we have a day set aside where quiet reflection is a must, where people dance in the streets to celebrate a melding of their past and present, where a puppeteer can make big dreams come true, and where the whole country comes together, if only for a day, in one accord.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love to all.

 

(and if you get a chance to read one of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts)

 

 

Barbecue Sauce is Full of Grace

 

As part of our program this year, we are reading books that have movies adapted from them.  (Ahem.  Doesn’t that sound nice–“program”?  Makes me sound much more organized than I actually am.  Yes, let’s go with that–program.)  We are reading and then watching.

I found out that Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) stars in a movie called “Ballet Shoes”(2008) that is based on a book with the same title by Noel Streatfeild (originally published in 1937).  I just knew this would be a winner with our Princess because she is a ballerina and she loves Hermione.  Win win.

Or not.

She was asking me to recommend something for her to read the other day (she has finally finished the whole Harry Potter series–huge victory y’all, she wasn’t reading until after she turned seven and now she is not quite ten–thankful, so thankful).  I asked her if she’d read “Ballet Shoes” yet.

“Well, no.  See, I have to get my mind over that word first.”

Word?  I was not aware of a word.  I mean, we’re talking 1937 here, right? What word could it be?

So I asked.

“Orphans.  It makes me sad.  I just need to wait a couple of days.”

Oh.  Okay.

I noticed her reading it today.  Sometimes she’s like that.  Just needs a couple of days to process things in her mind and heart.  I spent much of the time reading aloud “Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin” trying to remember to substitute another word for “Indians.”  It brought troubling images to her mind for some reason.  Now, no problem.

I don’t even know.  I choose not to question it.  It kind of makes life easier.

Yesterday a friend shared the video of the little boy who was not happy about his Mama announcing he was going to be a big brother.  Again.  He gives his Mama a talking to, and yes, I giggled when he used the big word.  You can watch it here if you like.

After watching it, I thought about the videos that people have been sharing of a little guy called “Kid President.”  I decided to check one out before getting back to the dishes and what not.  Lots and lots of what nots.

As I watched the one he did for Mothers (“don’t name your kid Phone,”), I was enchanted. My littles came up and watched too.  We all were giggling by the time it ended.  As I looked around at all the Whatnots that had yet to be done in my house, I may or may not have coached my children to explain it all by saying, “My Mama’s got stuff to do.”  Ahem.  Yes.  Yes she does.  And dishes and laundry and dusting are way down on that list.  *sigh*

They begged to watch another one, so we did.  “20 Things We Should Say More Often.”

Y’all.  He is adorable.  And the truth he speaks all while making us laugh.

I could cry.

But I’m sort of mixed up like that.

My two were laughing so hard by the time it was over.  And it wasn’t the funny sound one.  It was #14.

“I’ve got barbecue sauce on my shirt too.”

Yes.  This.

Look at the sauce on your own shirt before you go pointing at the sauce on someone else’s.

Please.  Yes.

But last night as I was thinking back over what Kid President was saying, I thought about what grace-filled words those are.

Yeah, you might have some on your shirt, but looka here.  You aren’t alone.  Don’t be embarrassed.  I have barbecue sauce (or spaghetti or salsa or chili or fruit smoothie *sigh*) on my shirt too.

Y’all.

Can I tell you how much I love this?  How many times have I walked in somewhere only to discover barbecue sauce somewhere on my shirt (literally or figuratively–doesn’t matter which) and felt so out of place?  What would it have been like for someone to walk up, whisper and giggle, “It’s okay.  I’ve got barbecue sauce on my shirt too.”

I would not mind one bit if a shirt that says this showed up in my drawer.  Preferably in white so I can wear it often and stain it well.  That’s kind of my thing, you know.  Staining shirts.  I’m why Tide Stainstick was invented.

You’re welcome.

After the laughter settled a bit, I told my crew we could watch more later–we had times tables and spelling words and China to explore.

Cooter was still laughing his head off, saying, “He said, ‘Put barbecue sauce on your shirt…..'” as he rolled off in another fit of laughter.  Yeah, he doesn’t get it.  It’s okay.  He’s still really cute.

Princess took a deep breath from her laughing, and sighed. “Mama, if he is an orphan, can we please adopt him?”

Ummm, yes?

I explained that to my knowledge he’s not and so, that would be a no.

But I get it.  Who wouldn’t want someone so full of joy and laughter and honest insight in their family?

No one, that’s who.

Tonight I’m thankful for a world where little boys can lead us on the right paths of thinking and caring and loving on folks.  I give thanks for the laughter and joy of my littles and for my girl who has been able not only to read but also to say “orphan”–who gets that we all need to be a part of taking care of others in this world.

Y’all go eat some barbecue, get messy, and love on folks.  We ALL got stuff to do.

Love to all.

 

 

 

#barbecuesaucemessykindofgrace

 

 

The Stories Interwoven With My Own

Today has been one of those precious days that you set aside in your memories to come back to later when the days are dark and cold, to warm yourself by as though it’s a fire burning in the fireplace.  Time with my family, getting things done, and in the midst of the doing, taking time to smell the books…..I meant roses.  Actually, no, I mean books.  Anyone else do that?  Maybe it’s because I worked in the library for years, but I do tend to sniff my books occasionally.  Weird, but true.  I love books.  And everything about them.  Including their smell.

Today has been about bringing all of the books in our home to one area and putting them on shelves.  Over the years of collecting books, we’ve had some tucked on bookshelves in nearly every room in the house.  So if you were looking for a particular book, often you would just give up before you’d go through all the possibilities.  Today I have channeled my inner librarian and sorted by different groups–the books from Maemae’s house, the children’s stories, some separated out–like the Berestain bears and the chapter books and the fairy ones and the Star Wars and Cars ones.  I’ve even gotten a little crazy and “alpha by author” ‘ed our Junior fictions.  I have yet to start on my books, and the space is dwindling.  Obviously I have some culling to do.  I know, it pains me to even think it.  But I’d rather do that than get rid of any more of the children’s books.

And that is just something I can’t do.  As the day progressed and I saw and heard my children’s reactions to having their books put away where they can see them all in a glance, I knew there was no way that I could get rid of any of their books anytime soon.  And in part it was because many of these books are a part of my story as well.

Some of the classics sitting together on their own shelf.....

Some of the classics sitting together on their own shelf…..

Aub, as she surveyed the nearly done shelving of our “Junior Fiction” books, said, “I feel really vulnerable and out there with all of these books together like this for anyone to see.”  She touched one set of books and then another, “These were my third grade world…..these I loved when I was in the fifth grade.”  And then there’s the Harry Potter series.  She and Harry grew up together think.  I know what she means.  As I shelved some of the oldest ones we have, I remembered my own fifth grade year.  And high school.  And the book Mama and Daddy bought for me when I turned six.  All there.

Princess' and Cooter's very own shelves to hold their very own favorite books.

Princess’ and Cooter’s very own shelves to hold their very own favorite books. My Daddy’s “granite” bear was the first thing placed on the shelves.  It had to be.

 

Our Princess was thrilled that she got her own shelves for her fairy books and the Junie B books and the Magic Treehouse series.  Though we’d gotten that set for her sister at least twelve years ago, those are the ones she jumped into after she first learned to read.  Those will always be precious stories to us.

Cooter sat on the rug tonight, and asked us all to “keep it down” please because he wanted to read.  He pulled out books that he hasn’t looked at in ages, because he could put his hands on them now.  Only this time he saw them with a new lens–for the first time, he is seeing them through the eyes of a reader.  At one point today, as we were working on shelving, I looked and all three had a book OPEN in their hands, and they were reading for a moment.

Yes, I think this is a very good thing.

My Mama's books tucked away for the night in their own section.  The apples and kokeshi Grandparents use to sit on top of Mama's bookcase.  My children would feed the dolls the apples and then Daddy would move them when they weren't looking.  Too much fun and a sweet memory.  They will move for more books but for today, that is right where they belong.

My Mama’s books tucked away for the night in their own section. The wooden apples and kokeshi Grandparents use to sit on top of Mama’s bookcase. My children would “feed” the dolls the apples and then Daddy would move them when they weren’t looking. Too much fun and a sweet memory. They will move for more books but for today, that is right where they belong.

I thought we had shelved all of the children’s books, and I was beginning to breathe a little easier about having room for my books.  And then we found one last bin of books from my Mama’s that we’ve had for a while.  As I saw the sorted piles growing, I realized I needed another shelf to hold these.  These books had Cooter exclaiming, “Oh that’s one of my favorites!” several times. Princess, as she was helping me get them out of the bin, had to stop every few minutes and flip through one and read several words.  So sweet.  And my college girl, Aub, saw the lift-the-flap board book that I remember from long ago, and said, “Oh this was my very favorite book EVER! I love this book.  See all of the children’s names.  I used to say I liked this one, not that one, that one’s okay…..”

Umm, so no, of course that one wasn’t in the give away pile.

Ahem.

It is funny and beautiful to me the way these stories and mine are interconnected.  There are books that touch one’s life and never let go.  They never really leave, woven into the tapestry of who we are.  In truth, I think that I probably have fewer of those in my adult fiction and non-fiction books than I have in the children’s books that bring back memories.

Maybe if I look at it that way, it won’t be too hard to cull some of mine.

At least I hope so.  Because I won’t say goodbye to the children’s stories.  They’re just that good.

 

Love and wishes for a good book to read to all.

 

 

Spring Green

To paraphrase Eddie Rabbitt, “I love a rainy day.”

Today it rained and it poured and it did my soul good.

For, you see, when it rains like this, it seems as though things slow down.  My soul quiets, and I take a deep breath.  I even let myself pick up a book in the middle of the day on rainy days every now and then.

Besides they say the sun will be out tomorrow, so I know it’s not an indefinite flooding going on here.  I can enjoy a rainy day or two every now and then.  Especially on those rainy days where I don’t have to be anywhere or meet a deadline or anything like that.

This afternoon I walked by the window in the living room a few times and had to do a double take.  The new green leaves on the tree right outside the window are such a bright green that they almost glow.  They made me think the sun was shining they were so vivid.

Bright green.

Spring green.

Ah.  I love that book.

Years ago I put together storytimes for the local library system and I traveled to different child care centers and read and shared stories, poems, and rhymes there and at the libraries.  One of my favorite books to share in March or April was “Spring Green” by Valrie M. Selkowe and Jeni Bassett.  It’s a simple and delightful story about Danny and his animal friends who are all invited to a party and need to bring something green with them.  Danny looks and looks and has such a hard time.

And in the end, it turns out it’s not so much what you have but who you have in your life that matters the most.

Amen.

It didn’t occur to me until tonight that this is why I love this story so much.  I expect that is why Mama loved having it on her shelf all those years–it’s something she’s known all along.

I’m a bit of a slow learner, but I know that truth now.

It’s all about the relationships.

If you have a few extra dollars and can order yourself a copy of this book or can find it at the library, I highly recommend it.  A sweet and quick read.  And the message can’t be beat.

All about the who, not the what.

Tonight I’m thankful for all of my who’s out there.  And for the us that the who’s in my life put time and love and energy into growing.

Love to all.  Wishing you all a day full of light tomorrow.