We’ve done a couple story times that involved snow (both The Mitten by Jan Brett and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen), so let’s move on to that other resident of winter–nighttime. Because we all know night lasts for about 3 years every day during January. And if you’ve never read this great book by Cheli Durán Ryan–and illustrated in pen and ink by the great Arnold Lobel–then you’re in for a real treat.
The best lesson you and your littles can glean from this book is one of tolerance. You may be wondering where I’m going with this, but it’s a really good book for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (or as Littlest calls it, Milk Day–get it? MLK-Milk?). Hildilid hates night, so she hates all things associated with night-“bats and owls and moles and voles and moths and stars and shadows and sleep.” She tries a ton of ways to get rid of night, but night will not go away. It really gives you a good place from which to jump start a tolerance conversation. Hildilid is going to have to learn to live with night, just like we should all learn to live with one another’s differences. So that’s lesson number one. I mean, you’re welcome. There’s a lot more fun stuff to do with this book, so stay with me.
The Greatest German Shepherd in the World wanted out at 5:30 this morning. So I bundled up (because it was -1 degree outside) and stepped out on the back porch with him. The ground was covered in snow, the stars were bright chips in the velvet night, the air was crisp (to say the least). I stood there, breathing, enjoying the quiet. Then I heard it.
If you’re a country dweller you know that even out here, the sound is rare. I held my breath. It came again. I couldn’t have stopped the slow smile from spreading across my face at gunpoint. Owls are such lovely, mysterious creatures, aren’t they? All the more so because we rarely catch a glimpse or a sound of them. We know they’re there, hunting the woods and the fields at night, but they are such silent fliers, such very nocturnal animals, we generally only get to enjoy them in zoos.
Ah, winter. That’s definitely what January means here in the northern hemisphere. We even had a couple of snow flurries this morning right here in Indiana, where we thought (hoped?) winter would never come. But even though I hate being cold, I love winter for all its differences from every other season. The stark nakedness of the trees darkening the skyline, the promise of that beautiful hush of snow, when the whole world seems to hold its breath and quiet down to hear the flakes fall… hot chocolate, cozy sweaters, cuddling. The smell of wood smoke. If I haven’t made you fall in love with winter yet, stick around for this amazing Story Time. If anyone can make you love winter (besides me), it’s Jan Brett and her magical stories.
It’s Christmastime!! Everybody loves this time of year. Or hates it. Depending on whether they are at home enjoying their own Christmas tree, mugs of cocoa, and family, or they are out shopping.
People shop all year. We all have things we need to pick up week to week–food, supplies, clothing. So what is it about shopping for Christmas that makes some put on their Belligerent Hats and shove through like nutcases? I suppose we’ll never know. I’ve always thought shopping for gifts should bring out the best in people, not the worst. So when I am out this time of year, I put on my biggest smile, and even when someone accidentally-on-purpose heels me with his or her cart for some imagined slight, I offer kind words. I may not think them, but I speak them. You know what a big believer I am in paying it forward.
It always makes my experience a little bit better, being kind in the face of all that irritation. Hopefully, it makes the experience of those who come in contact with me better, too. I am, after all, an optimist.