At mile marker 50, I’m starting to resemble the Velveteen Rabbit, worn thin, stained and lumpy. My girls are growing up. The oldest just transitioned from college to career. The second has launched into higher education. The third navigates the social and academic jungle called high school and the baby skirts the edges of childhood with adolescence nipping at her heels.
One of my most cherished Mama delights these past twenty plus years has been building a family library, one book at a time, and savoring our holdings.
We had our routine back in the day. We’d choose our favorite stories, snuggle under fuzzy lap quilts in our oversized chair and read them together, the girls and I.
Now, the picture book stage of life has slipped through my fingers like sand in an hourglass and when we moved last year, these treasures, sadly, got demoted to a bookshelf behind closed doors. Call me sappy and sentimental, but it’s bittersweet to tuck them away and I feel like they deserve better so I’m giving them a ceremony of release. I’m sorting through my picture books, touching each story, fingering the pages, admiring the illustrations, selecting the 50 I love best to match the candles on my last birthday cake. What better occasion than this to revisit those tales that have taken us to extraordinary places and on magnificent adventures, that inspired us to live courageously and virtuously, and made us laugh and cry.
These shaping stories have shaped my story.
Every book I include on my list, I will read to whoever will still listen, one last time. And sometimes I may even videotape the story for posterity. I’ll share my list here then tuck my stories away with gratitude and save them because someday my name might be “Grandma”. And if it is, I’ll set them back out on the handcrafted, pink, pine-stained bookshelf constructed by Grandpa, right next to the Loving Family dollhouse, a large bin of Duplos and that same oversized chair. We’ll cuddle close under cozy quilts and re-live the magic, fresh and new, the next generation of kiddos wide eyed with wonder.