Well, I’m starting this blog a bit differently today than the one I drafted last week because…since then, I learned Marrying Mattie is a Nominee for Best Book of 2010 at Love Western Romances! Voting starts today, and to celebrate, I’m going to send a signed copy of Marrying Mattie to one name drawn from today’s commenters. There’s such hefty competition I’m just honored to be nominated. What a Thanksgiving it was and what a Christmas season it will be! Hee-yaw. That said….
…Christmas wasn’t Christmas at my childhood home without books under the tree. One year, Santa also stuffed my stocking with tomes about Trixie Belden and her pals sleuthing her way through upstate New York. The year of The Wizard of Oz, Mom gave me an old Easter basket so I could pretend to be Dorothy. I live where a cold day is 50 degrees, so following an imaginary yellow brick road through our small suburban back yard kept me busy well past New Year’s. And goodness me, the Bobbsey twins and five little Peppers, the Little House and Secret Garden and the Alps of Heidi. Nancy Drew…Even the Hardy Boys snuck in there. Ah, the list goes on and on.
But nothing did it for me like Louisa May Alcott. As I’ve said many times here, in other blogs, and to anybody with ears or eyes, the first time I read Little Women I knew I was somehow, some way, someday going to be a writer.
I pored over that one, and the follow-ups Little Men and Jo’s Boys, wishing the sun had never set on the March world. But her voice continued, and her words resonated in Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, where I anguished over Rose choosing the dorkiest cousin. Oh, the incredible Jack and Jill. I still remember these many decades later the first time I read of their friend Ed’s sudden death. I absolutely couldn’t breathe. Even today, the emotions of that chapter can rack me. What a gift she had, not just for telling a great story but also for touching a reader’s soul. Ed’s death just might be my first taste of grief.
Not long ago, my hubby and I visited Massachusetts, and highlights were a Sox-Angels game at Fenway and a stay in Concord. My Fenway. There I got to visit Louisa’s last resting place on the slopes of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery along with other great writers at Author’s Ridge. I got to visit Orchard House and see the real “Meg’s” wedding gown laying on a bed as if she’d just taken if off. Saw the real “Amy’s” sketches on the walls as decoration as the Alcotts couldn’t afford wallpaper. The kitchen boasts the indoor well her father Bronson had built for “Abba” that today has compromised the house’s foundation…
And in the little gift shop of Orchard House, I not only bought yet another volume of Little Women but also the dearest book, Louisa May Alcott Christmas, Selected Holiday Stories and Poems. In this book, lovely tales and poems about children from humbler days charm me even during summertimes with scenes of holiday meals and big surprises, with themes of charity, hope, and of course, family.
But my favorite is the hymn I’ll leave you with today as we live once again the most glorious season of the year in which our Lord came to live among us.
O the Beautiful Old Story
O the beautiful old story!
Of the little child that lay
In a manger on that morning,
When the stars sang in the day;
When the happy shepherds kneeling,
As before a holy shrine,
Bless’d God and the tender mother
For a life that was divine.
O the pleasant, peaceful story!
Of the Youth who grew so fair,
In His father’s humble dwelling
Poverty and toil to share,
Till around Him in the temple,
Marveling, the old men stood,
As through His wise innocency
Shone the meek boy’s angelhood.
O the wonderful, true story!
Of the messenger from God,
Who among the poor and lowly,
Bravely and devoutly trod,
Working miracles of mercy,
Preaching peace, rebuking strife,
Blessing all the little children,
Lifting up the dead to life.
O the sad and solemn story!
Of the cross, the crown, the spear,
Of the pardon, pain, and glory
That have made His Name so dear.
His example let us follow,
Fearless, faithful to the end,
Walking in the sacred footsteps
Of our Brother, Master, Friend.
Is there any author from the past who has stolen your heart the way Louisa May Alcott has stolen mine?