I've always loved reading and writing, and I guess you'd say I was pretty nerdy as a child. For obvious reasons I was never good at sports, and when I played outside it usually meant I would be sitting under the willow trees in our backyard with a book. The branches reached down to the ground and created a natural 'secret' fort, and I could sit under there and read for hours! I would do other things outside as well, though usually a book was involved. For instance, a neighborhood friend and I liked to play 'Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz' and my rendition of Dorothy often included her teaching the flying monkeys how to read. I learned at an early age that I could be anyone, do anything...and go ANYWHERE a book could take me, just by turning the pages. Starting this blog has been great as well, as it allows me to bring my readers into my head and my world even for a short while, while I write about any topic I wish...however important or unimportant that topic may be! And when I had dinner with my parents last night and we were talking about the past, it made me think about where that all started, and the many gifts they've given me over the years. I don't mean material possessions, of course...I mean my imagination, talents and humor. From my father I definitely got my sense of humor...we're both goofy, and often laugh hysterically while my mother just looks at us and shakes her head! And though she may not always get my crazy sense of humor, she has managed to pass on many gifts to me as well.
The love for reading and writing is mostly due to my mother. And she passed on this gift in some strange ways...such as telling me late night veggie tales. I don't mean the cartoon where the characters are all vegetables, of course. That did not exist when I was little, but I was a witness to the ORIGINAL Veggie Tales...too bad we didn't get a patent! You see, it all started when I was about eight years old...and I began having the hardest time falling asleep at night. And not just for a little while, but for HOURS on end! In fact, I'm not really sure I slept much at all through my childhood. That, I'm afraid, came from my father who is also an insomniac...did I mention gifts?? Well, that's certainly one I could have done without! And my poor mother could have done without it as well, as she would try anything she could think of to help me fall asleep. One of the things she would do is tell me stories as she struggled to stay awake herself...created off the top of her head, on the spur of the moment. And her stories for some reason always included vegetables. She was a gardener, you see, and she actually thought that she could bore me into falling asleep by creating vegetable characters that walked and talked. The sad thing for her was, I actually loved it!
So at three o'clock in the morning with my eyes wide open, I would hear all about the tales of The Giant Rutabaga or The Crabby Cucumber as my mother's poor eyes would turn into slits. Stories of living vegetables and their many adventures kept me company night after night, and took my love of reading, writing and 'story telling' to a whole new level. Here was something I could do, no matter what my body was doing that day...even if my limbs weren't always cooperating with me, my mind never shut off--not even at 3:00 in the morning! I would listen over and over to these stories and see the picture of them in my mind...and I started to learn that I could create my own tales as well! My ability to write grew from those moments, and though I would have benefited from more sleep, I wouldn't trade those childhood veggie tales for anything in the world. In fact I've been wanting to hear the rutabaga story again, mom...so if you don't mind, the next time I can't sleep I'll give you a call!
It's easy to get caught up in the material whirlwind during this time of year. We all have things we need, want and desire...and it can be disappointing when we don't get them. And many of us worry if the gifts we buy others are good enough, and will they make the other person happy? (Or maybe that's just me!) It can be hard to think about Christmas and not see it in terms of 'possessions' when you're bombarded with holiday sales fliers in the mail, and store commercials on TV. It can be difficult to put all that aside and just relax, and enjoy the company of friends and family...and realize that in most cases, the people who love you aren't going to care what's underneath the fancy paper. So as Christmas is fast approaching, wrap your presents with care and imagine the smiling faces of your loved ones as they open them! Be thankful for the thought behind the gifts you receive, even if you don't get everything you were hoping for...for you see, the people around you contribute to your life every day of the year. Through their actions, their smiles, their talents and their laughter. It's like getting a pile of gifts every day...and you just can't put a price on that!