When they were younger, I used to spend hours reading to my grandchildren. Of course, this was a part of the routine when I tucked them in at night. The books were followed by songs, old favourites and lullabies, some with words made up just for them. My grandson has two that he always sings to me. With each child, it would end with little talks, a special goodnight saying and a kiss – all this part of a routine that I continued from when their Dad was little.
I was moving around some of those books today, dusting them off and wondering was it time for them to go into the ‘give-away’ bag. Some of the favourites I can almost recite without opening as they had been read so often:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
The Flea’s Sneeze by Lynn Downey
The Elves and The Shoemaker by Oscar Weigle
Winnie the Pooh
The Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
There are the Wonder Books, The Little Golden Books, and then began the chapter books, on to adventure stories and novels. You know how it goes … no longer wanting me to read to them as they are now avid readers themselves.
But a couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter and I snuggled in and I read aloud as I would have done when she was a little girl. Except, this time it was from one of my favourites, Collected Poems by Robert Service. Some of the selections were quite serious, some so vivid that we almost saw through the author’s eyes. and some held laughter in every line. There was The Man Who Knew, The Spell of The Yukon, The Cremation of Sam McGee, Bessie’s Boil, Fi-Fi in Bed and so many more.
As I closed the book, I noticed the old poster that has always hung on our wall and I stopped to read:
Go Placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons. They are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble – it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is. Many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be a peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.
Found in old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore, USA, dated 1692
As We Have Always Done
It will be such fun when we are able to get together again. Though the children are growing up and books are not always read aloud anymore, we have kept our bedtime routine. And then, at close of the day when we say goodnight, we will do as we have always done.
There are treasures that present themselves at the strangest and yet the best of times. There is wisdom to be found – perhaps in a routine started long, long ago, in a special book or a poster on the wall.
The ‘give-away’ bag can wait another while.
© 2020 Beulah Peyton Bouzane