Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Special Feature - Giving Up, Little House Style

Some of my Little House friends are rereading the Little House books in order. These beloved children's stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder have been my favorites for years--though I admit they did not interest me as much when I was a child as they do now.

We are currently reading and discussing On the Banks of Plum Creek, the fourth in the series. The most recent dicussion centers around Chapter 12 - Christmas Horses. In this chapter, Ma talks to Laura and Mary about what Pa wants for Christmas - a set of horses to help him harrow and harvest the wheat. The girls want things too, but horses aren't on their lists.

But after talking with Ma about Santa Claus and being unselfish, the girls soberly agree that they will ask Santa for horses. And in the next chapter they are pleasantly surprised to find that while Santa Claus did bring horses, he also managed to bring a few treats for Laura, Mary, and their baby sister Carrie; so the girls have a wonderful Christmas after all.

It is this type of sacrifice for the good of the family that endears the Little House books to generations of fans. The way in which the Ingalls family always ends up pulling together and helping one another is inspiring and makes you want to have that type of family too.

When the classic televison series Little House on the Prairie aired in the 70's and early 80's, it is exactly that pull together and help each other, our love and faith will get us through type of mentality from the books that Michael Landon and the crew captured week after week. While over time the storylines were based less and less on the material from the books, the essence and tone of the television series never changed. This is what I fondly remember about watching the show on the one television our family owned.

My children live a life much better than the one I lived. Growing up we had few material possessions and our family is what would now be called dysfunctional, at best. There are few things that my children want for, though it seems their list increases by the day, and I often wonder if, as parents, we have been successful in teaching them to think of others. And then I ponder the meaning of the sacrifice made by two young girls living on the banks of Plum Creek, and hope that our family could pull together in such a crisis, where our livelihood and our future might depend on it.

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder might have taken place during the 1800's, but for those of us living now, they not only entertain, they teach the values that will make our world a better place.

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