Saturday, December 20, 2008
Yesterday, I watched Little Women, the more recent version with Susan Sarandon, and remembered again the personal importance of Louisa May Alcott's book. When I was a pre-teen, Aunt Sherry gave everyone a book. We all got what was considered age appropriate, I remember my younger sister and I received a book from the Bobbsy Twins series, my older sisters received, Hedi and Little Women. I guess I was book deprived. Most of my sister's were because we read everything we could, cereal boxes, packaging, directions (globes/maps). We had plenty of young children's literature in the form of Dr. Seuss; The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham because Mom ordered a subscription that came by mail. My younger sister and I would memorize the silly stories which I still occasionally recite to this day to the consternation of most listeners. Let's see..."One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. This one has a star, this one has a little car..." and "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am." We also memorized The Night Before Christmas and we would recite the poem to each other and to everyone-anyone- who would listen,"Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there." One Christmas, I was thrilled with the gift, The Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes-that was before anyone thought about what underlying message they might have related to patriarchy, misogyny or violence. Up to this point, my family and much of society in general rarely realized the potential impact of a book. Do you remember Katherine Kelly's lines in the movie, You've Got Mail about how reading a book shapes identity and how it becomes a part of you? I agree with this statement only I would say that timing is important. The book has to reach the reader at the right time in her life. It was the right time for my sisters and me; we all read our books and then each others. I now realize that Little Women helped me to understand that beauty defies definition or representation, can be created or experienced, and has much to do with the way we live our lives. Viewing the movie, yesterday, I realized that the parents were transcendentalists and that all of the children have trouble living up to the highest ideal of taking responsibility to be their personal best self. They struggle with the gesture but ultimately do give up their special food so that the poor can eat, and even Beth who is the closest representation of angelic on fictional earth, is overwhelmed by the poverty of the family she visits while her mom is away. The girls try to live up to Marmme's wish that they make the world a better place. This sharing balance and the focus on what's important comes to our minds at Christmas or when viewing a classic movie such as It's a Wonderful Life-or when reading Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women. May all the gifts we give and receive this year lift us up to our own version of our transcendentally beautiful self.
Jon Davidson, "Christmas in London", photo flickr
Thank you willow for reminding us about those lovely intangibles. http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/