It wasn’t Susan’s fault that she was only a corncob. Sometimes Mary let Laura hold Nettie, but she did it only when Susan couldn’t see. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods
I caught my breath on these words, picturing Mary and Laura playing for hours in the dusty-spicy attic with nothing but a rag doll and a corncob. Life was very hard, I know, and sometimes the romanticized view of pioneer life does it such injustice…but still. Still.
Having no flat, dimensionless drivel flashing before them incessantly such as modern children are subject to, these girls had the freedom to develop the creative power of a brilliant sunrise. That Laura’s corncob doll was given such power of feelings, and never a second’s thought as to her stature, speaks volumes for the strength of simplicity.
I told my children to guess what Pa did with the pig’s bladder. First, they had to be informed what a bladder was, for they didn’t know. In 1870, a four year old knew what a pig’s bladder was, and what fun it could be! Pa blew it up into a little white balloon, which the girls batted about and bounced along with endless joy. Who needs a bounce house? Oh, and the pig’s tail was even more fun!
I’m sort of old fashioned and nostalgic, so I need to not get carried away with sentimentality. I know that about myself. I live in the 21st century and I’m glad I do, but still. Good literature always demands a response from me. I can’t read something meaningful and not come away with an action, however small.
With Christmas just days away, and since tomorrow’s reading with the kids is the Little House chapter entitled “Christmas,” I have a reply. If you know Little House, you know that simple is not dull. Ma loved beautiful things, and I’m amazed at how she used so very little and so common a thing to make her home charming. I hope to create beauty with simple things.
Laura loved to look at the lamp, with its glass chimney so clean and sparkling, its yellow flame burning so steadily, and its bowl of clear kerosene colored red by the bits of flannel. She loved to look at the fire in the fireplace, flickering and changing all the time, burning yellow and red and sometimes green above the logs, and hovering blue over the golden and ruby coals.
Maybe I’ll make pancake men for breakfast for the kids on Christmas morning, like Ma. We’ll bake together, sing carols, make pictures in the snow, sit and look at the fire, read stories, and of course talk about the birth of Jesus.
Anyone have a pig’s bladder to lend me?