I have to admit that as a child, November was one of my least favorite months. It's gray. It's wet. It's dark. Gone are the crisp, beautiful days of October. Gone is the anticipation of Halloween. Christmas in a kid's mind is too far away to think about.
And Thanksgiving? Well, as a picky eater with a phobia of public praying, Thanksgiving was the stuff nightmares were made of!
With age comes wisdom, and a newfound appreciation of November. The weather? It's still gray and wet and dark, perfect for curling up with a cup of tea, a good book and a cat. Thanksgiving? As a recovering picky eater I have developed a love of all things Thanksgiving related. Who knew that fresh cranberries were so much better than the jelly stuff shaped like a can? Sweet potatoes, YUM! And pumpkin pie, well that always was my favorite. Just like my Grandpa. And I eat it just like my Grandpa, filling first, crust last. I never got to meet my Grandpa but his memory is alive to me in the stories I grew up with.
November is Family Story Month. I bet you have lots of them. Some favorites get told time and time again. Like the time my husband took home the class pet, a chameleon named Presto, for Thanksgiving break. Presto joined in the festivities by running across the dining room table and leaving footprints in the butter on the butter dish. There was the time that my mom served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Thanksgiving because the power was off. And the year my aunt and uncle got married on Thanksgiving evening.
Our stories are what keeps our loved ones near, when they're not and alive, even when they've passed away. They help us to remember who we are and where we came from. Have you shared your family stories with your kids? Have you written any of them down? I encourage you to take the time and share some of your family stories. Tell the kids about when they were little and when you were little.
A great way to start is with one of the many children's books about families. I've shared a few of my favorites, but there are so many to choose from. Fortunately, we all have families with funny, warm, unique and inspiring stories. Honor them all this November by telling their stories to your children.
In "The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polocco, a homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith.
"Now One Foot Now the Other" by Tomie dePaolo tells the story of young Bobby, who was named after his grandfather Bob. The two share a special relationship with Grandpa even teaching Bobby to walk. The relationship grows stronger after grandpa suffers a stroke.
"My Great-Aunt, Arizona" by Gloria Houston is the life story of Arizona, born in the Blue Ridge Mountains and named by her brother, who is a calvaryman out west. Arizona faces life's struggles with spirit and determination.
Lee Ann Cleary is the children's program director at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling.