Looking back at my calendar, I realize just how stressful my life has been since school began. Eight weeks and not one even remotely “normal” one among them! So it’s no wonder I’ve reverted to my “comfort books.” I picked up Little Town on the Prairie the other day. Now I’m on These Happy Golden Years. I think I’m up for an L.M. Montgomery binge next.
Even after reading Laura Ingalls Wilder so many times, I forget how much I enjoy her books. I pick up something new every time, because each time I read them, I’m at a different place in my life. (I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve read these books, but since I’ve had the set for over 30 years, my guess is at least 25 times each!)
This time I loved how Pa didn’t just notice Laura’s need for a bit of fun in her life of work and study (she was 14-15 then), he validated it by putting together the Friday night literary society meetings during the winter months. He wanted her to have fun in those precious years just before having to take on all the responsibility of a grown-up. And good thing he did! You have to wonder if Almanzo would have noticed her if the whole town hadn’t been together having such fun gatherings!
I always love, too, Mary and Laura’s discussion of the goodness of God and Laura’s observation that Mary knows His goodness in a very special way because of her blindness. And Ma’s advice, that I go back to time and time again, both in my own life and to pass along to my children. “You may be well prepared to teach school and still not be a schoolteacher,” Ma tells Laura, “but if you are not prepared, it’s certain that you won’t be.”
And two things I’ve pondered for the first time from this reading: what happened to the Boasts? What was their story before they met the Ingalls? What was there life like between their occasional appearances over the last two books? Also, was Eliza Jane still alive when these were published? Laura doesn’t pull any punches “cleaning up” her future sister-in-law’s shortcomings. Did Laura and Eliza Jane ever reconcile to the place where they could be civil to each other?
I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about my “comfort” reading in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, search out those books that impacted you as a child and re-read them. I think you’ll be amazed and the different things you see in them as an adult.