I love books! I know that will not shock my friends, but what might shock them is that Jane Austen was not always my favorite author. At one time the lovely Louisa May Alcott held that wonderful position in my heart. I do not know that I could truly ever rate which authoress I love more than the other, because, honestly, I love them both.
Well, as it turns out, September 30th was the 141st anniversary of the original publication of Miss Alcott’s wonderful book, Little Women. I remember the first time I cracked open that long book (or what seemed like a long book to a young fourth grader) and read the first line,
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
And I remember thinking to myself, as I lay on the couch enjoying my school Christmas break and looking over at the tree with gifts underneath it, that as Meg said next, it truly would be dreadful to be poor. We were blessed to have those gifts for the festive season. It was a memory that is etched in my mind, though one I have never told anyone of or written about until jut now.
I devoured that book and talked my mom into taking me to the library two more times during that Christmas break to find the other books Miss Alcott wrote. Then for Christmas that year, my mom gave me a very precious gift – a book. Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott. It wasn’t just any book, it was one passed down to her by her mother, who also received it as a gift when she was a young girl from her mother. The book was old and well worn, with already yellowed pages and grey duck tape replacing where the binding had once been. I don’t know who put that on there, but it was meant to keep the well-loved book together for a few more years.
That tape has since worn off, and the pages are even more yellowed than when I received that book all those years ago, but it is the one thing I always pack with me when we move. I don’t trust it to boxes, and even put it in my carry on bag when we moved to Germany. It is my most precious possession. I know it is not perfect, but it holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps one day I will have it rebound, or maybe not. What has stopped me thus far from looking into it is the name of my great-grandmother and the date of 9-26-45 written in her hand on the inside cover. I do not want to lose that part. I guess it would not be too difficult to find out whether the process of rebinding it would be able to save that for me though. You see, I dearly wish to pass that book down to my daughter, just as my mom did to me when I was ten, and as her mom did to her when she was ten, and as my grandmother’s mom did for her when she was ten (indicated by the date written in the front), but I just don’t know if it will handle another child’s hands in its current condition. My second daughter is coming up on her tenth birthday, and my eldest daughter is nearly fourteen, so at some point I will have to just trust that they are old enough to care for this book as well as I have all these years.
Here are a few pictures I took of my well-worn, but much-loved book: