Did you hear The Writer's Almanac on New Year's Eve? It was a particularly good one; maybe Garrison knew a lot of us would be off work and listening to NPR on December 31st. The best part was the quote by Junot Díaz, who said of writers: "What we do might be done in solitude and with great desperation, but it tends to produce exactly the opposite. It tends to produce community and in many people hope and joy."
YES!! Exactly! Isn't it wonderful to share a great book with friends? Like the old book club we had at Franklin. Like reading the Bible with your brothers and sisters. How my parents are currently halfway through Marley and Me right now, enjoying every page all the more because they have a new yellow Lab puppy cavorting around the house while they read it.
Some of my family's fondest memories are of READING together...or better yet, watching Dad *trying* to read Patrick McManus to us--gasping, wheezing, wiping his eyes--choking out one word at a time through his tears of laughter. (My dad's laugh is infectious, btw. While my red-headed grandmother would crack up everyone else with her shrieks and gales, my dad's laugh is even more potent, but in a different way. When Dad has to hold onto furniture, racked with nearly-silent spasms of jocularity, and all you can hear is wheezing and sputtering and gasping, you can not NOT join in. You may not even know WHY you are laughing so hard, but you have succumbed to Dad's Laugh Virus.)
Ooh, and it hasn't been all fun and games with the reading, either. Mom and Dad had us all in tears when they read that sentimental poem about the bell in the churchyard by John Godfrey Saxe, a favorite still.
Or when Karen and I creeped ourselves out listening to Rosemary's Baby on tape driving home from the Delaware shore, sandy and sunburned and scared of Satan.
Honestly, one of my family's greatest legacies will be the memories of books and reading together, each of us draped over some well-worn piece of furniture around the crackling Franklin stove, book in hand. You know that line "richer than I you can never be...I had a mother who read to me"? Yeah. That's how I feel about my parents.
To be honest, though, when Papa Keillor read the Díaz quote, my first thought wasn't of my family, but of poor Charlie Gibson. When he read an advance copy of The Book Thief, one of the best books ever, he was distressed because no one else he knew had read it...he had no friends with which to share and discuss this amazing work. Mr. Gibson related his quandary to the young author in an interview at:
(Go ahead. Click it. You have fast Internet, and it's an amazing interview. The author made his own dad cry and considered it revenge for all the spankings he'd received as a boy...)
*I walked/ran 2.5 miles in mismatched shoes the other day...and didn't realize it until Karen and I were standing in Office Depot later that night. (She asked me to accompany her to the store and assured me that I "wasn't too stinky.")
The bad news? The people in the park must have felt sorry for the Crazy Dog Lady. The good news? I found out that the New Balance foot felt better than the Nike foot.
*Right now, at this very moment, our three dogs are doing three different things with the warm sweet potatoes I just gave them. Ben has discovered that there's more to the baked sweet potato than just licking the sweet syrup off the jacket and is tucking into the orange yumminess within. May Bee licked hers a few times and is now sitting with her back to it, guarding it. And Dolly? She's burying hers, scooping the dirt back into the hole with her delicate little nose.
I love Sundays. Sunday Baroque is on the radio, hot coffee is in my mug (HEB's Houston blend), towels are agitating in the washer, Houston's giant shoes are banging around in the dryer, I'm getting ready to fill out the church nametags, and all is right with the world.
(This week, Ms. Bradshaw had her kids do research on the Greek gods and their final step was to say which god or goddess they would most like to be. Kids who loved the ocean said Poseidon, kids who loved books said Athena, kids who want to be President someday said Zeus...but it turns out I'm Hestia, goddess of the hearth and home, who just wants to sit by the fire and let the world go by...as long as there's a book and dog nearby.)