Twenty-two years ago, my grandmother sent for my Christmas gift a boxed set of nine yellow books. I had an excessive fondness for books, as evidenced by the fact that I spent the entire rest of my vacation reading them. When I finished the ninth, I sobbed all night, then started at the beginning the next day. Over and over and over again. That summer, we went on vacation to Nebraska and I barely got my nose out of the books long enough to acknowledge my relatives.
A few years ago, someone at church passed along three very old fashioned dresses in size six. Even though the girls were wearing sizes 2 and 3 at the time, I had a feeling they'd come in handy some day and put them in the closet.
A year or so ago, headed out on a car trip, I pulled out those books, careworn and missing covers. I began Little House In The Big Woods to read to the girls on our journey. I'd planned on saving them for car trips--to add a special treat to something otherwise misery-ridden--but six-year-old girls cannot wait to know what the next chapter brings any more than I could at ten.
We're halfway through the fourth book, now. The girls have started playing prairie girl, asking me to cook the foods Laura ate, drawing pictures of Indians on ponies passing by a little log cabin. They are especially fascinated by the Christmases--those stockings filled with a tin cup, two pieces of candy and a penny that overwhelm their little recipients with joy.
Yesterday, I remembered those dresses and pulled them out of the bin. My girls' eyes popped open like Laura's must have when she got her very own doll that Christmas in the big woods of Wisconsin.
Tomorrow, they get to go see the live musical version, featuring Melissa Gilbert as Ma. They have never watched the show to know just how cool that is.
I know that my little proper blondie who stays tidy and thinks of appropriate ways to play and my sparkling-eyed brown haired girl who wears her clothes "Dixie-Dirty" and can find a little trouble in anything will, in their dresses, be more like Mary and Laura than any girls they could put on that stage.