I love books! When I was first learning the magic of putting letters together and forming words, it was exciting! Before long I switched from picture books to chapter books then to any and all children’s books.
I preferred reading to almost anything else. When the lights were off at night, I made up stories, a chapter at a time. I wanted to write books. Looking back, I never wanted to be an author or see my books on the shelf. I wanted other people to enjoy my stories.
In sixth grade, I nearly was chastised for reading on the playground instead of exercising or socializing with the other girls. But Mrs. Urkavich was a wise teacher and decided to take advantage of my love of reading.
She’d noticed that a few of the boys were missing during recess and began looking for them. We never saw her, but she saw the missing boys sitting under the fire escape listening to me read Mrs. Pickeral Goes to Mars (by Ellen MacGregor
New York, New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1951). Remember in 1955, no one had been in space yet. The boys were engrossed in the adventure. Although quiet and shy, I was happy to share a favorite story.
My teacher made me a deal. I could “remember” to take a book out to the playground two days per week. On the days I “forgot” my book, the boys would be able to run off their extra energy. The goal, getting boys to want to read, was a success.
In seventh grade, my love of words was used again by the English teacher. She challenged the class to find sentences I couldn’t diagram. This set of boys had to read to find them, but didn’t realize it. Their only thought was to make the sentences too hard for me. Through diagramming, our teacher taught English as a game. And I don’t remember ever failing at diagramming.
As often happens, I benefited from both experiences. I gained an understanding of persuasion and encouragement. I learned why many are poor readers and how to help them. In my shyness, I learned that I wouldn’t faint away if I spoke up.
In my young adult years, I tutored children with reading difficulties. Later, I would write and teach adult students’ training curriculum that used multiple methods of teaching. Now, I engage my grandchildren in writing stories.
On the other hand, books served other purposes:
- education—there’s a ton of reading to become a nurse;
- figuring out how to knit and play the piano on my own;
- learning how to express myself verbally and in writing;
- keeping current in my profession, as a parent and as a woman;
- relaxation—mysteries are my favorite way, especially while taking bubble bathes;
- growing in my relationship with the Lord; and
Yes, escaping into books was a way for me to cope with my “dysfunctional” family, especially the verbal abuse of my mother. Librarians became my allies, even though I never expressed what I was hiding from. My love of books delighted them, resulting in me having first dibs on all newly acquired books.
I literally read every book except the reference section in every school library through junior high school. I made it through each summer, thanks to the local library. I’d walk there every week, spend as long as allowed (by my mother) and carry home as many books as I could carry. I was one of the few who read every book assigned, plus every book suggested by my English teachers in high school.
By now, you know I love to read, why and some of the results of my reading. Plus, you know I write this column and others. (And I am writing my first book.)
Yet, there is one more advantage of words and books—healing through journaling.
In December 1984 I wrote, “It’s been a stressful year. As Christmas approached, depression set in… ‘Christmas is what you decide you want it to be,’ was the message of a TV special…”
Today—2010, as the holidays approach, I need to determine what they will be like. I don’t have control of all the circumstances, but if I have unrealistic expectations, it will be me, myself and I that bears the brunt of my disappointments.
I call it the “Cinderella Syndrome.” Cinderella was beautiful, kind, and loving. The daughter anyone would be proud of. However, after her mother died, she no longer was the “apple” of her father’s eye. Her step-sisters were jealous and unbearable. Her step-mother was hateful and demanding. Cinderella became the servant. Well, you know the rest … she married a prince, had beautiful clothes and her own servants, and “lived happily ever after.”
I hate to break it to you, but Cinderella is a girl in a storybook and in a Disney movie. You’ll not find her anywhere else! Nor her prince.
Uncle Jake is still going to turn up drunk at the family get-together; Aunt Mable is going to bring her horrible fruitcake; neighbor, Jolene, is planning another holiday party and will use up all the parking spaces; one of the kids will spill the milk, or worse yet, the gravy; your mother will try to be the center of attention no matter what she has to do to get it; and the cat will try to climb the Christmas tree to get away from all of you!
If you expect changes after all these years … be somewhere else!
Seriously, we must decide what is tolerable, what is important and whether we can be in control of any of it. Family and others can be very demanding this time of year. In the spirit of the season, we want a Currier & Ives celebration, a Hallmark perfection “this year.”
Unrealistic expectations lead to misery, to ruined “again” moments, and more depression.
Knowing this time of year causes an increase in my depression, I will determine realistic ways to cope. I will take my medicine as prescribed. I will ask friends to make sure I don’t stay cooped up in my apartment having a pity party. While my family—son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren—are out of state for three weeks over Christmas, I will make and distribute cookies to my neighbors, fix Christmas dinner for some seniors, go to as many Christmas concerts as I am invited to, read a special Christmas mystery book, watch my favorite Christmas movies while eating popcorn, and I will play all my favorite Christmas tapes and CDs while writing.
After Christmas, I will pray for the sender of each Christmas card I receive; and I will prepare a meal for my family when they return. During down moments, I will focus on my Lord and what He would have me do. If needed, I will escape by curling up in front of my pretend fire and read ‘til the wee hours of the morning.
Notice that the above verbs are action words. In addition, add: plan, prepare, be realistic and decide how your holidays are going to be this year.
As for me, I’ll be sure to have a few books ready … just in case.Copyright © by Constance Gilbert 2010 | 0 comments