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A Month of Children’s Books

Here’s my Very Small Animal, Rufus, with his own tiny Eeyore.

I’ve decided to read children’s books through the month of December this year. Why? Well, the best of them are filled with wisdom, humor, beauty, imagination, adventure, and comfort–all things we could use plenty of right now. Here’s my list: the Pooh books, Alice in Wonderland, the real Peter PanThe Wind in the Willows, the Narnia books. If you want to be happy, children’s books are a pretty good plan. And being happy is a pretty good plan, too.

I was collecting children’s books before my sons were born. I had always loved the stories and the art, as well as that dreamy feeling that all kinds of unusual things just might be possible, e.g. walking through the back of a wardrobe into another land. Then I had kids, which gave me an even better reason to buy all the lovely children’s books. I began reading aloud to Cole when he was a baby and then eventually I’d have the three of them crowded around me on the couch while I read and read and read. At bedtime when the story was finished, Cole would say, “End. Bed. Numie” (pacifier).

I made this clay sculpture of Pooh and Piglet before my sons were born and gave it to my sister one Christmas.
I have my special favorites, among them and maybe most of all, Winnie The Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, the latter of which does have a rather poignant, if not sad, ending. There is something to love about each character, even grumpy old sarcastic Eeyore and Small, a beetle, the tiniest of Rabbit’s numerous friends and relations. Bouncy Tigger, timid little Piglet, steadfastly loving Pooh, bossy Rabbit, haughty Owl, Kanga and her sweet Baby Roo, and of course, the plucky, heroic Christopher Robin–all lovable and loved by each other, despite their various shortcomings.If only we could be as accepting of each other’s little peccadillos as they are. Deepak Chopra speaks of the “true self” or spirit as perfect, loving, creative, and light-filled. He says your true self cannot be altered or broken, no matter what you do or is done to you. It could be hidden beneath ego and personality–but it remains there, unchanged. I love this idea.

Pooh’s true self is always visible to us and to his friends, which is why he is so very lovable. There is no artifice or ego with him. He is a ball of love with arms, legs, a stout middle, and a head for poetry and singing. He is ready for joy and full of generous thoughts.Randy Pausch suggested, in his lovely book, The Last Lecture, “Be a Tigger, not an Eeyore.” Well, I’ve liked that idea ever since I read it, but now I think I’d rather be a Pooh. Tigger is awfully bouncy. Pooh is just Pooh, through and through–his true perfect self. He is ready for an expotition at the drop of a hat and also for “a little smackerel of something” at around eleven in the morning or at any time, really. I admire both of those qualities. Pooh loves his friends and values the little things in life. And he is very huggable, partly owing to those daily elevenses.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast,” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

― A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

This card, NM900 Wonderful Time, speaks to the friendships in these great books.

If you’re interested in my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you like this letter, find more of my writing (letters and poems) on my blog.

It’s nice for me to think of you out there, reading this. I hope you think about revisiting those classic children’s books you’ve loved–or discover some new ones, perhaps while enjoying a little smackerel of something and a cup of tea.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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