True gift of joy
connects with reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books
when I hold it, I want even more
Pure love connects us like a Button String
I’ve been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my daughters. We are now on round two of reading them! Full disclosure they are a product of their time. They have some deeply disturbing racial stereotypes in them. But they also break those same stereotypes. The doctor that saves the Wilder family from dying of disease is African American. The man who saves the settlers from being attacked by the Natives is a Native American. Pa appreciates both men greatly.
These books are filled with rich description and beautiful imagery. Laura has to describe the sunsets to Mary when Mary loses her eyesight. The books explain life from long ago but make it feel like present day. You identify with little Laura even as she lives in the middle of the woods- a place where you rarely visit with family or neighbors, but bear and wolves are always nearby.
You get a sense of just how thin the line is between life and death. Pa at one time is lost in a blizzard for three days and survives in a hillside hollow on Christmas candy and oyster crackers. When the storm ends he realizes he is only 200 yards from his house.
But back to button strings.
Laura delights in joy from little things like rag dolls, beads, and buttons. And my daughters are of an age where they wholly identify with that. For Christmas one year, Mary and Laura get to make baby Carrie a button string using buttons that Ma and her mother have saved for years. How completely delightful. And I, as the luckiest mother in the world, received a surprise Christmas gift from my daughters.
Before Christmas one day, they asked if they could sew. They asked where the buttons were. After much toiling and fretting, I got a gorgeous little cloth cat from one daughter, She had cut a face and ears from flowered cloth scraps and sewn them together. She drew a kitty face in pink marker on the front.
The other daughter made me a button string. And I cried when I held it and realized how special it was. It is soothing, rhythmic, sensory and so beautiful in its simplicity. I understand the appeal from holding one in a way I never would have by just reading about it.
And when I am anxious, I hold the button string and feel its strength.
For it is love and connection.
It represents so much. My mother’s love. (She purchased each girl a set of the books.) My father’s love. (He talks about how much he loved reading those books to me and my sister when we were little.) My love of the stories. (My name is Laura and I always wanted to believe I was named for her.) My home. (Almanzo was raised in Malone, NY, an hour from my parents’ home.) And my daughters’ love. We LOVE reading books together and all three of us get caught up in the stories.
Pure joy is reading with my girls a story that my parents read to me. I love it even more as a grown up than I ever did as a child. Pure joy is holding my scrap kitty-cat head and my button string. For when I hold them, I am holding my daughters’ love.
One thought on “Pure Love Connects Us Like a Button String”
I LOVE this, Laura! I can’t even tell you how many times I read those books. I spent the majority of 4th grade in an alternative program where I did very little other than read those books! I read them to my children when they were growing up, but they didn’t appreciate the fact that I had a difficult time getting through them without crying. There was something so emotional for me, reading about a time and people who were no longer with us, while realizing how fast my own life was going!
Such a great reflection of a representation of love and connection!