Tonight after work I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up red leggings and a red shirt for Olivia, so that she could be Olivia the Pig for school tomorrow. I walked right into a holiday clash, as this picture clearly shows:
I have been in love with all things Alcott since I discovered Little Women in third grade. My grandmother’s gift of Flower Fables the following year was the beginning of my collection, which originally was of the volumes printed by Little, Brown & Co.
In March, 1997, I chanced upon a used bookstore in Sacramento, CA, where I found a 1906 edition of Aunt Jo’s Scrap Bag Volume I: My Boys, etc. The delicious teal blue binding hinted of wondrous things inside, but I took it home and put it on one of my Alcott shelves and never read it. Until this challenge came along, and it was time.
Originally copyrighted in 1871 by Louisa May Alcott as a Christmas gift for her family (then again in 1899 by John S. P. Alcott), reading this volume feels like sitting next to “Aunt Jo” and hearing her tell her stories.
I took my copy out to the back yard early yesterday morning and sat under a shady tree to read. The preface begins, “As grandmothers rummage their piece-bags and bundles in search of gay odds and ends to make gifts with which to fill the little stockings that hang all in a row on Christmas Eve, so I have gathered together some stories, old and new, to amuse the large family that has so rapidly and beautifully grown up about me.”
Louisa’s sense of humor, as well as her intense love for “her boys”, shines through in this little book. I think my favorite story is “Buzz”, a tale of her friendship with the fly she names Buzz, “on account of his fine voice”. They share her rooms quite cozily for many weeks, until she leaves for a lengthy visit with family twenty miles away during the winter. Unfortunately, in her absence, her friend dies from the cold. She, of course, buries him in her garden, where she remembers him as she waters her plants, saying, “Grow green, ivy, lie lightly, moss, shine warmly, sun, and make his last bed pleasant to my little friend.”
I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with my granddaughters.
2015 Reading Challenge #20/50.
Last night I turned off my Saturday morning alarm, in anticipation of the first full day of Easter vacation (aka “spring break”). I had every intention of sleeping in, as I had no real responsibilities until time to go to work in the late afternoon. My well-trained self only managed an extra forty minutes before waking up. Still I looked forward to at least an hour or so of peace and quiet before anyone else woke up. I didn’t even make a cup of tea or let the dog out — I was being that quiet. But to no avail.
Ten minutes later, Miss Olivia crept into my room. She had slept in her daddy’s pup tent in the middle of the living room, and she was awake and ready to play — before 8:00 a.m.! Very soon she conned me into getting into the tent with her, and then she decided to fill it with animals. My job was easy: Lie comfortably (??) on the tent floor, ready to be piled with stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes.
Here I am, surrounded by animal friends.
And here is Olivia, happily dressed in her “Elf on a Shelf” jammies from Christmas.
She eventually filled the entire floor of the tent with animals, then took pity on me and allowed me to escape. I have a feeling that there will be more tent-time in my future. Stay tuned.
The best present I received this Christmas was inscribed thusly: 12-25-14 To my Ultimate Wonder Woman! You are the best and most wonderful person I’ve ever known. Thank you for shaping me into the woman I am today. Love you always! Merry Christmas! Georgia & family
This morning I was the first one awake and had absolutely nothing on my calendar. So I grabbed a blanket and snuggled onto the couch with “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore. For two glorious hours the only sound was Chance snoring at my feet. Then Olivia woke up, and things got considerably noisier.
After a day of housecleaning (“Is somebody coming over, Grammy?” Lily asked) and piddling around, I again settled down on the couch with my book after Georgia got home from work. I never read Wonder Woman comics as a girl, but Mom did, and Wonder Woman was on her list of favorites, right behind “Tillie the Toiler” and “Brenda Starr”. When we were going through Mom’s clothes after she died, the one thing I kept was the Wonder Woman tee-shirt I had gotten her the previous Christmas.
Jill Lepore has written a fascinating history that is about much more than a comic book hero. William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, also invented the lie detector test. He rubbed elbows (and more) with suffragists and feminists including Emmeline Pankhurst and Margaret Sanger, and predicted a peaceful world run by women in the future. Ms. Lepore includes a treasure trove of documents, photographs, and illustrations to reflect the complex lives of Marston and his unconventional family.
I still have another 50 pages to read, as well as an additional 100 or so pages of sources and chapter notes. If you love comics, or feminist history, or sociology…GET THIS BOOK! You won’t regret it.
Christmas 2014 has been wondrous from the beginning to the end. I got a peek at the tree shortly after Santa left. It left me teary-eyed, as always.
I was up for nearly two hours before anyone else…not a creature was stirring (except the Grammy). Then I heard the Olivia mouse tiptoeing down the hall.
The excitement of Lily’s awakening was interrupted by her getting quite sick and spending two hours at the ER. After much folderol, the doctor decreed that she was dehydrated, gave her some water (eventually) and anti-nausea medication, and sent her home.
Many wonderful gifts later, Olivia and Erika found themselves in the castle tent Auntie Anne had sent.
Our brunch was delicious, even though by the time we were able to eat the official “brunch hour” was past. Such a surfeit of wonderful food, and even better company! We popped our poppers, read the tacky jokes, and laughed until it hurt. Then less than three hours later we walked down the street to Nick’s Aunt Christine’s house, where we ate and laughed and ate some more (and opened more presents). Everywhere we looked there were cousins and plates of great food!
After we got back home, Uncle Chris came over bringing gifts from his family to ours. More exclamations of joy, more thoughtful presents.
But my very favorite present of the day was the one I didn’t even know I wanted until about two weeks ago when I read a review on FaceBook and was intrigued. Thank you, Georgia, for not only listening to your mother, but acting on it.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
“So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. – Luke 2:16-20
As I write this evening, with Christmas carols wafting in from the living room, the words to “Over the river and through the woods” are ringing in my head. I’m not travelling, though…I’m here at home waiting for my son and his lady to arrive and make my holiday complete. There is such joy in having my children and grandchildren all together. I am totally spoiled rotten, and love every minute of it.
I love the over-the-top baking orgy that has become part of our Christmas festivities, even as I am well aware that there are many others not as fortunate as we. My hope is that we will not become so comfortable that we forget those living on the edge of society.
Ah…there’s the knock on the door I’ve been waiting for. My kids are here! Goodnight!
Today was the official first day of Christmas vacation (weekends don’t count). I very purposefully shut off my weekday alarm last night, only to be awakened at 6:15 as usual by my next door neighbor getting up for work, followed immediately by the arrival of the garbage truck. But this time I bravely stayed in bed and managed to go back to sleep for another hour. I tiptoed out of bed, took my book, and migrated to the couch for two blissful hours of reading, the quiet broken only by the happy snoring of Chance the World’s Best Dog.
The girls slept in until 10:00. After their mom went to work, we cranked up the Classic Christmas Sounds channel on the television, did a little housework (getting ready for company tomorrow) and then made snowmen. Watching them work together on a project is pure joy.
They were so pleased with the finished product, and so was I.
One snowman each went onto the refrigerator door, and the others graced the mantle. They went so well there that Georgia didn’t even notice them at first.
Later on we made more fudge, played with play dough, and had lots of computer time…a truly lovely winter day. More tomorrow.
When I was in high school, my entire group of Horizon Club girls became Candy Striper Hospital Volunteers. Each week we gave a minimum of two hours each as volunteers; some gave many more. On Wednesdays, several of us worked at the Arroyo Grande Convalescent Hospital. We read to residents, helped with feeding, ran errands, filled water pitchers, and too heartbreakingly often were the only visitors since the previous week. At the dinner table I would share the day’s stories with my family, sobbing in frustration and sadness for those whose families had forgotten them. Daddy would say, “If it is so hard, why do you keep going back?” “If I don’t do it, who will?” would always be my answer.
Convalescent hospitals have changed for the better over the past 50 years, but they are still often places for elderly residents whose families cannot or will not care for them. Visitors from outside are an appreciated blessing. Activity program budgets are small or non-existent, and the hours can drag by very slowly.
A couple of weeks ago someone on the “You know you’re from Visalia when…” Facebook group asked what there was to do around here for free, and someone suggested Christmas caroling. The word spread, a small gathering formed, one of my co-workers passed on the information, and I found myself with a group of mostly strangers at the Delta Convalescent Hospital this morning, ready to sing. We were a motley crew, ranging in age from about 6 to mid-60s.
As we sang through our repertoire of upbeat, popular Christmas songs (the Twelve Days of Christmas, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, etc.) the residents in the day room sat in varying degrees of engagement. Some seemed completely unaware of our presence, others beamed and mouthed the words, a couple sang along. I know my heart gained more from them than they did from us. And I hope we made their morning a little less tedious, gave them glimpses of Christmas past. There was a smattering of applause when we finished, along with tentative “Merry Christmas” wishes.
All together, the group sang at four convalescent homes today. Our investment was only in time…time spent thinking about others besides ourselves and our immediate families. I know I came away heartened by the opportunity to brighten the day for these frail, elderly folks and their caregivers.
What about you? To what are you willing to say, “If I don’t do it, who will?” How can you give of your heart (and perhaps your voice) to the needy/elderly/shut-ins in our community this Christmas? The need is great and the rewards are greater.