“This is now.” When I finished reading Little House in the Big Woods to five year old, Beej, the ending gave my heart a pang. As I gave this more thought, I realized that there were so many reasons it touched me so deeply.
I grew up reading the Little House books over and over again. It’s one of many things I share with my sisters. We read the books, watched the tv show and played out scenes repeatedly throughout our childhood. I felt so attached to Mary and Laura. Who didn’t love Laura, little half-pint? She was feisty, adventurous, impulsive…. and for me, once again as was in the case with Betsy Ray, she was a writer. But when we played Little House, I was always Mary, my sister was Laura and our youngest sister was Baby Carrie, which is why she didn’t play with us often. Because let’s be honest here, did anyone ever really want to be poor Carrie? We played these parts because of birth order but I believe that if our order had been different, I would still be Mary. I was more like her in personality while my sister was more like Laura.
I couldn’t wait to share my love of these books with Kris, when she was young. I remember purchasing her a hardcover copy of Little House in the Big Woods when she was around seven years old. We settled in for a cozy bonding experience and I began reading it to her….. and she was bored stiff. I had forgotten how descriptive the books were. She couldn’t get into the book and I didn’t push the issue, although I was disappointed. These books had played a big part in my life.
Fast forward 20 years and while looking for short chapter books to read to Beej, I came across a few Little House books that were simpler and revised. Each book had a theme- Laura and Jack stories, School Days, and Pioneer Sisters. We read the first Laura and Jack story and Beej was hooked!! His thirst for learning new things was being quenched by the same descriptive writing that didn’t keep Kris’s attention. We read at breakfast and having completed Little House in the Big Woods, we are over halfway through Little House on the Prairie. In this book, they have moved to Indian country so this is a strong underlying theme throughout. At times I have to read ahead quickly so I can edit what he hears since the book does hold the long held view on the subject.
As we read and come across parts that my sisters and I loved as children, I’ve been sending my sisters screenshots of those favorite passages. It’s fun to share those memories and reminisce.
And I come back to that simple sentence. “This is now.” It seems so appropriate to be reading about a time long ago when, for very different reasons, life was similar in many ways to the lives some of us are living right now. The majority of my human contact is the people in my house. Although the boys come and go depending on their dad’s work schedule (which does not stop for pandemics or anything else, for the matter). We might not be building our own house, growing or hunting for food and living primitively, but our lives are very different than they were even a month ago. We are doing without things we thought were necessary. And reading about a very different time so many years ago makes me think about how much things have changed, and yet stayed the same.
How very much we are living for today. Now.