Monday, February 7, 2011

Prairie Days

It's February the 7th!

When my girls were growing up, today was Prairie Day in our house. On that date, we dressed in our poke bonnets and tried to make pioneer dinners from our Little House on the Prairie Cookbook. I probably should be ashamed to admit that we did goofy stuff like that.

I'm sure they are...

  We did it because February the 7th
is the birthday of my all time favorite author,  
Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

I first fell in love with Laura... and her Ma, and her Pa, and her big sister Mary, and her baby sister Carrie, and their good old bulldog Jack... when I was in the 3rd grade.

As Laura would say, "In those days and in that place," children would gather on the floor around our teachers' feet and listen in rapt attention as they read books to us.

Real honest to goodness books.
Not picture books...
Not "big books"...
We read chapter books, chapter books with stories so marvelous that they drew us back day after day after day to hear the wonderful tales unfold.

It was my favorite part of the day, and the Little House books were my favorite books of all. I followed Laura and her family all the way from the big woods of Wisconsin to the Kansas prairie, to the banks of Plum Creek, to the shores of Silver Lake.  There we homesteaded while the little girl from the big woods became a teacher and fell in love with the man who could tame wild horses.

It was grand.

When I became a mother,  I could hardly wait to share Laura with my own girls. We began the books when The Practical One was old enough to sit still, and we read until the series was finished. Then, she listened a second time when we headed down the prairie trail with little sister.  This time Super Dad joined the fun and became a late- blooming Ingalls fan himself.

Not long after that, we pioneered west on a family vacation to The Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.  It wasn't my first trip to the place. My parents had taken us on the same journey, for the same reason,  nearly thirty years earlier. A little maturity didn't dampen my enthusiasm one bit, though. When I stepped out of that car on that day, I was eight years old all over again.

The girls got  Mary and Laura china dolls

 I just got more books to feed my Laura obsession.

Sometimes, I look at the children's books published today and wonder if a modern day publisher would find Laura marketable at all. After all, her books are wholesome and teach old- fashioned values of hard work, thrift, and individual responsibility. They aren't the least bit culturally relevant or politically correct. What's more, they boast an unashamed trust in the sovereignty of God. 

Even through The Long Winter.

Who wants to read old- fashioned stuff like that? 
I do. 

And I'm glad that my daughters did.
And what's more, I can hardly wait until we can introduce Laura Ingalls Wilder to a whole new generation.


Red Couch Recipes said...

I love the books too -- and for that matter the series too (eventhough it really wasn't very true to the books). What a fun mother you are! I did read some of the books to my kids, but not the whole series. I have read these books as an adult and I was amazed at how so much of their time is spent in planting food, harvesting food, storing food for the winter, making food, etc. As a child it really escaped me and as an adult it is a perfect read for a foodie. One can really have compassion on Pa and Ma as they scrabble together to make a living. They are amazing books and I did not know it was her Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday.

gnee @ Singing With Birds said...

Growing up one of my greatest joys was having Dad read a chapter of a classic book to us every night after we were tucked in bed. I remember Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Caddie Woodlawn and The Little House Series, just to name a few! It took years along with my own five children before I realized the gift of love that he gave us. I'm loving the pioneer pic of the coeds who will bless your name for the gift that you have given them. Thanks Debbie for sharing so much of your family and self.

Gail @ Faithfulness Farm said...

Little House obsessed here too. I need to get my pictures scanned of my daughter in her prarie garb. I haven't been to Mansfield, MO, but we have been to Plum Creek. MN and the DeSmit, SD homestead. We also loved Anne of Green Gables & Caddie Woodlawn & too many others to mention :)

Happy Birthday Laura!


xinex said...

That was not goofy, that must have been so much fun for the girls and the whole family, something to look forward to every year. The girls are so cute and so are the dolls...Christine

The Decorative Dreamer said...

You must have been a great mom to grown up with. That would have been so fun! I remember reading the Little Women books and checking them out from the library in elementary school. I really loved those! Those dolls are so cute and your daughters were precious!

Sue said...

Oh Debbie ~ I totally get it ~ my daughter is named Laura Elizabeth, after you know who!! I can't even tell you how many times I have read those books. They were hands down favorites when I was little. Add to that Caddie Woodlawn, who grew up near my grandmother, Little Women, etc. But, Little House will always be my absolute favorite.

I wonder if the children today still read them? I'll be introducing them to my granddaughter in a year or so ~ can't wait.

I think it is wonderful that you celebrate her birthday, I wish I had thought of that!!

Have a great day!

{I am so jealous of your dolls!!}

Joywriter said...

*sigh* After raising two boys, I'm ready to go back and re-read ALL of Laura's books! What a great post.

Angel said...

Yes! This is just wonderful. We need the message of the Little House books to teach this generation (and the next) of what life was like before cell phones, xbox and ipods.

These prairie stories and others like them remind us of simpler times when Godly values were commonly accepted and wholesome living was not a punchline for modern tv shows (don't get me started...)

Anyway, thanks for this great post!

Crickit said...

I am an avid reader and also enjoyed all of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I used to watch Little House on the Prairie also. They used to film the TV show, here in my neck of the woods!

Your house sounds like it was a very fun place to grow-up! :)

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

How precious...well this house of boys wouldn't do that, but my daughter-in-law's house of girls did...and she has pictures just like this. She will probably do the same if they have girls.
Yes I love "good" children's books...and picked some up the other day for myself...I still get to read to my little one, but I wanted to just enjoy some for myself.
What a wonderful trip you made...that needs to be on my bucket list also.

At The Picket Fence said...

Just when I think I can't possibly like you more, you go and write about your passion for Little House! :-) I still have all of the dress-up clothes my grandma made for us to match the ones in the TV series. We even had little drawstring purses and nightcaps with the ruffle around the brim. My sister was older and blonde so she was Mary, of course, and I was younger and brunnette so I was Laura. We also got to visit the museum in MO and it was like a dream come true! We lived and breathed Little House and this past Dec. I had a date with my son and we watched the Christmas episode where Laura traded Bunny for the stove for Ma and I about bawled my eyes out even though I have seen it a million times! I think I may have traumatized my son! :-) Anyway, I did not know though that this was Laura's birthday so thank you for sharing that with us!

Denise said...

Oh what wonderful memories! How I loved those books too! Do you remember we found the set mom and dad bought us for Christmas in their closet before Christmas morning? Actually, I don't think we realized the box had books in it...we thought it was candy. (At least I thought it was). My girls loved them as well. I guess we'll just have to share all of those days of "prairie living" we and all four girls played on to the next generation. I don't know about you, but I can't wait!

Great books. Great author. Great post. Thanks.

Jennie said...

This post was a big "duh" moment for me! I cannot believe I never made the Little House connection before now. (I feel not-so-smart.)

I absolutely loved these them through in order (of course). Then went back and re-read my favorites. Do boys read these too? I think Ben would enjoy them. Or at least...I want him to!

Great post - and thanks for letting me know the date, I had no idea. I'm sorry I missed it by a day!

P.S. - Went to the HOCO teacher fair last weekend. Scariest day of my life. I'm not holding my breath. There were 600 job hopefuls in attendance and word on the street is that was a lot less than last year. YIKES. Whatever will be, will be, right? RIGHT?! ;)

Denise said...

BTW, wonder what Miss Practical and Miss Whimsey's real names are? Just sayin'...

Kathleen said...

Another Little House fan here too. It was a completely different world to me, maybe that was why I loved the stories. We liked the television series too. Enjoyed this post. Your girls looked too cute for words. Is there not a picture of you dressed up too?

FrouFrouBritches said...

Today is Laura's birthday? How could I not know that? She is my absolute favorite too! I've read EVERY book dozens of times. I still have my set from when I was young. My oldest didn't like them much. I considered disowning her! I'm DYING to go to Mansfield to the museum. I've never been. Have you seen the book "I Remember Laura"? It's got lots of photos of the Ingalls, articles written, recipes and interviews with people who knew Laura and Rose. It's pretty cool.

The girls look so cute in their bonnets and dresses. I can't find my bonnet. Wish I still had it.


What a great family tradition you started on that February 7th long ago. I hope Prairie Day is carried on for generations to come in your family :-)

Take care and have a nice day :-)


Carol said...

Another Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, here! I read every single book aloud to Chickie when she was little, and she re-read the books again when she was able to read herself. Lots of wonderful memories and morals/values to share.
Chickie even did a report for school on Laura.

Bill said...

Hi Debbie,

Your girls looked adorable in the photo. What a wonderful post! It makes me long for a simpler time when children didn't have so many loud, inappropriate influences. I guess there's no going back, but I know your next generation will be fortunate to have you in their lives.

Chatty Crone said...

Oh my goodness - that is the favorite of so many of us. That was cute the way you dressed up and I am sure it will be a great memory for the girls. sandie

Amy Kinser said...

I absolutely love that you and your girls did that. What an awesome memory and an awesome way to teach the love of a simpler life, a simpler time.

I love Little House On the Prarie. Always have and always will.

Ms.Daisy said...

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Curcio, read to us every afternoon and I so looked forward to that time of the school day! I listed with rapt attention to Tom Sawyer, Heidi and so many more. I developed a love of reading that I may never have had except for that special teacher. Loved how you shared your love of the Little House books with your daughters.


Canadagirl said...

I can relate as you well know. *grin* I wish I could someday go to that museum. I love that you had a dressing up day like you did. And NO you should not be ashamed. I would hope your girls have good memories dressing up and having fun. They are the best books and I am so glad they are not politically correct and bold in professing the Lord.

Blessings and ((HUGS))
In Him<><

Lynn Richards said...

I never knew Laura's birthday was Feb. 7!!!!! That's my eldest daughter's birthday. And we loved those books. Just today I was looking over the copies we have that I have kept for future daughter and I loved reading chapter books. Did you read Beezus and Ramona or Henry and Ribsy? Those were so fun to read outloud!

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

It's wonderful that your girls have those memories, they are priceless.

Sharon Kirby said...

Oh, such a precious memory! I just loved this quaint post. You're so right (I'm sad to say) - I'm afraid Laura would not make the publishing cut these days. WAY too wholesome. And isn't that what's really SO wrong with everything nowadays? Values have been lost, put aside - the immediacy of entertainment and communication has taken away the fine art of communication and family connectedness.

I miss the days of the prairie...

The picture of the girls is too cute/funny - it's always good to have a few pictures that are potential blackmail material!! HA!



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