Books from childhood … (anytime)

November 29, 2007

Over the long, lazy Thanksgiving weekend we spent at my parents’ house, one of the most enjoyable hours came when my brother and I went through our old children’s books. Our mom was determined to get rid of as many as possible (meaning I was to take them home for M. and S. — my bachelor brother’s in a trendy one-bedroom loft condo that doesn’t have a lick of storage space). We both started the project without terribly much enthusiasm, but within about two minutes, we were hooked. The memories!! Books whose titles didn’t sound faintly familiar were revealed to be old friends once we opened the covers and saw the images. Some of the most beloved were disintigrating beyond repair, and others had been taped repeatedly. To be fair about the process, we checked each flyleaf for inscriptions (our family is big on gifts of literature) — and we laughed at how often a favorite book that was originally mine had my sister’s and brother’s names handwritten in it by them.

We eventually came up with several piles — one for me, one for him, one for our sister, one for the grandparents to keep, and one to donate. I packed up my pile and mailed it home, where it arrived yesterday. M. has already realized that any package arriving in the next few weeks is probably a present, so he pounced on the box as soon as he saw it. When we opened it, he seemed more delighted by the contents than if they had been wrapped. He loved the idea that he was inheriting a piece of my childhood, so we sat down right there on the kitchen floor and went through the box, patching the books that needed it and sorting out the ones he wanted to read first. His favorites so far are from the Sweet Pickles series, a Weekly Reader product from the ’70s, but there are really a lot of miscellaneous titles (long out of print, I’m sure) that are capturing his imagination just as they captured mine.

I’m pretty sure Mom’s intentions were simply to clear out some storage space, but she wound up giving us a lovely gift that we’ll be enjoying for many bedtimes to come.

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