Friday, December 21, 2012

The Shortest Day

R.H. reminded me yesterday that today would be the shortest day of the year; then Ronald Blythe did when I opened his Word from Wormingford when I went to bed last night. He said:

"The shortest day and thus, by implication, the darkest week."

As if we really needed a dark week, huh? To top it off, the winds here yesterday meant a power outage that lasted five hours. Nothing new to us here in the country, and nowhere near as bad as it used to be when we first moved here in 1990 when Zack and Defee were young.

We were on well water back then and lost our water also when the power was off, which happened frequently then. That meant no flushing the toilet unless they hauled water in buckets from the creek.

Ah, the good old days.

What I did in those days was light candles and read to the boys.

In December, the first book I read to them, just as I had read it to their big brother and sister when they were young, was Madeline L'Engle's The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, although I read it to all of them after the Christmas tree was decorated while they lay on the floor beside it, all lights off except the tree lights.

Back in the 1970s I would check it out of the library each year, and I think it had a different title then. Now each of the kids have their own copy of the Austin family, familiar to fans of L'Engle's many books. I wonder how many times I've read aloud her A Wrinkle in Time?

Or C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles?

Make Way for Ducklings?

All of Beatrice Potter's books?

The Madeline books to Christy?

Holly and the Ivy?

The Little House books?

The other books whose titles have left my mind in a senior moment but whose characters have not--a small boy named Peter, a white dog who leaves home each morning to explore the town and returns home dirty? 

Mike What's-His-Name and his steam shovel? The little house in the country that gets surrounded by the city? The little boy who flies in the night with the snowman?

So many books, so many memories.

Did you ever read Goodnight Moon to your child? Over and over?

I see that smile.

It's the shortest day of the year and I'm going to bed early tonight to read. I think The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas is going with me, for old time's sake.


  1. Such a lovely post. Yes, I read Goodnight Moon to my boy over and over. And some of the other books you mentioned. Now he's reading to his son and daughter some of the same books. A book can join generations, like a family heirloom. Thanks for posting this. Love your photos and thoughts. Thank you, too, for following my blog. I'm following you, as well. Not just because you followed me, but because your blog is charming and warm. Nicely done.

  2. Crying as I read this... my two would not hold still to be read to, isn't that funny? From a mother who read in every spare moment. I did read so many of those books... the magical "Wrinkle in Time"... how many times I wished those things were real. I love the last picture.

  3. I love "Goodnight Moon". It just makes me cry and as I get older, it gets more and more to me. I got my son and all of my g'children that book and just got one for the new g'granddaughter even tho she's only 1 1/2. Isn't it funny that certain books stay with us forever?

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.


  4. The missing titles are probably "Peter's Pockets", "Harry the Dirty Dog", "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel", "The Little House" and "The Snowman" and I love them all too, the wonderful books you talked about. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. what a lovely post along with great memories of reading to your children. Children love having stories read to them.. Love your little doggies. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on my basement. I love Native American blankets, basket and artwork and I love their traditions. I have many Native American friends both in the U.S and in Canada. Glad I discovered your blog today and happy to hear that you like my space too. I love the black and white and black and cream ribbons that you are using in your home. I meant to comment that I just bought some striped black and white ribbon a couple days ago and put it on one of my lamps. It really dresses it up!

  6. What a wonderful memory for you and your children. I'm sure it's a Christmas tradition they remember well.

  7. Who's that knocking on Christmas eve? by Jan Brett has always been my kids favorite. And our favorite thing to do when the power is out for days in to make colored ice candles and read by candlelight. We don't get too many freezing nights so it's all great fun for them!

  8. Wonderful memories of beautiful books! (We're on well water here and when we lose power, it ain't pretty!)


  9. WOW did this post take ME down memory lane :) WE had a cistern when I was young with an electric pump and we were out in the country...up on a hill. Lost power alot. One big and long snowstorm had my sister and I not only bringing in snow to flush the commode but after two days or so we started melting it to bathe and even wash our hair

    Some of the titles I read to my boys and I remember the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a child. I often get tempted to just get them and read them for myself again! I should hit the library up for one at least.

  10. Mom, brought back memories of you, sis and I laying on the floor in the dark except for the lights on the tree after we finished decorating it. We would just lay there memorized for what seemed like hours watching the twinkling and reflections off the ornaments. While dad was working late flocking and selling trees. I remember you reading Wrinkle in Time to me but it took you a long time because I kept asking so many questions, ha ha. The Drum Goes Dead is a good small book mom gave me that I read last year at Christmas.

    1. Dear Gurn, I just got through answering all the other sweet comments by email, but had to answer yours here because it's, of course, the sweetest of all! It makes me so happy that you remember all the reading times. You especially loved the Narnia books. And I'm glad you read The Drum Goes Dead. For any others who might read this comment, this book is a Christmas book by Bess Streeter Aldrich. I believe in this little book so much that one Christmas I searched out 4 nice copies with dustjackets from Abe Books, one signed by the author, and gave them to our kids for Christmas. This little book makes you think and appreciate a simple Christmas, even a Christmas when you're financially strapped as it takes place during the Depression.

      Love to our firstborn,

  11. Ah...such a story! I read Goodnight Moon millions of times! LOL! Love it always! In fact am getting a copy for our little Jayden! He is so sweet and his mama reads to him every single night! Thanks for your beautiful stories. Hugs Anne


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