|An old, but well used dictionary in my house|
- Watson marveled at how Holmes could preternaturally detect subtle clues at the scene of a crime.
|An old, but well used dictionary in my house|
At the end of one of my favorite movies, Harry Burns asks Sally Albright, “What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means.” Now, if you’re old enough, and you like a good comedy, you should know that the movie is When Harry Met Sally, and the song is Auld Lang Syne. And during New Year’s Eve festivities tomorrow night, you will probably hear, and maybe even sing, the song again and wonder the same thing Harry does.
|Pentatonix performs on The Sing Off|
*Word Nerd Note: “Pentatonic” refers to a musical scale with five notes per octave. Most major and minor scales have seven notes (heptatonic). The word pentatonic struck me because I’m also an a cappella nerd, and my favorite a cappella group, Pentatonix, won The Sing Off this season. Five members make up the band, so I guess that’s how they got their name, but I wonder if they knew about this musical term as well?
Do you know the Herdmans? Six unruly, unsupervised children who steal, smoke cigars, and set fire to small buildings? If you’ve read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, then you’ll know that these mischievous kids are the unlikely messengers for the good news of the Christmas story.
This year, for various reasons, I decided I needed to read the book, so each night this week I have settled my kids down from their holiday hyperactivity by gathering them together to listen to a chapter from Robinson’s comical yet touching novel for children.
When the Herdmans show up at church looking for free cake and kool-aide, they learn about the annual Christmas pageant and decide to bully their way into all of the main parts. But once rehearsals begin, it’s obvious that the children have never heard the Christmas story, and that’s when the magic starts.
As these brazen youngsters express profound compassion for Mary’s plight and outrage at King Herod’s deceit, they give pause to those of us who have heard the story multiple times and have perhaps grown complacent about its implications. They make us wonder, what would have happened if the Wise Men had returned to Herod, as instructed?
And so, unexpectedly, by the end of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the wild Herdman children make us see, in a new light, the beauty and miracle of the Christmas story as they discover its wonder for the first time. As so often in the Bible, it’s the people who make us the most uncomfortable who have the most important message for us.
At the beginning of Advent, my pastor encouraged the members of our parish to look generously for the good in others, as it would increase the good in each of us. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever illustrates, with simplicity and humor, how we can find beauty and goodness in the most unlikely places. I hope you will find it, and share it, this holiday season.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
I know we left off December; life’s too busy then.
Two summers ago, while we were on vacation in the Adirondacks, my tech-savvy friend Don sat me down with his latest gadget: an eReader. “As much as you read, I think you’d like this,” he said as he demonstrated the e-reader’s features and quick downloading capability. He nodded to the novel in my lap, Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, a three inch thick volume. “This is much lighter than THAT.”
“Yeah!” my son said, eagerly grabbing the eReader.
eReaders eliminate bulk.
eReaders make reading more cost effective.
But I still have reservations.
Sharing eBooks isn’t always easy. There are time limits (Kindle = two weeks) and financial restrictions (most cost at least $100 and an Amazon Prime membership costs $79 per year). According to the local librarian, a lot of the patrons she sees do not have the computer knowledge or equipment to borrow the eBooks available. I believe everyone should have access to literature, and I worry that eReaders exclude significant segments of our population.
And, I like to take my novels into the bathtub.
Do you agree? Have I missed something? Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. This picture book earned my love years ago for its sparse , but moving/poetic language (Max “sails in and out of weeks…to where the wild things are”) and most importantly its ending: Max stands up to those wild monsters.
For budding, but hesitant readers:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick. This VERY thick chapter book might cause alarm, but if you can get a child to flip through the pages and see that detailed drawings comprise half of the book, I’m sure he or she will immediately begin to pour over the fast paced story told with words and pictures. The movie based on the book comes out over the holidays, making this a timely gift.
The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. These books follow the adventures of Will and the rangers, a group of shadowy characters who secretively combat evil in a medieval / fantasy setting. My 40 year old husband enjoys these stories as much as my 11 year old son!
Matched by Ally Condie. This dystopian fantasy explores the underlying conflicts in a society where the government efficiently directs everything for the good of its citizens, right down to the food delivered each night for dinner. Word nerd alert: “dystopian” comes from ancient Greek words meaning “bad place;” it describes a society under repressive government control, usually in the guise of “utopia.”
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. Flavia, a precocious and headstrong young lady, finds a dying man on the grounds of her father’s estate and immediately launches an investigation. Suspense and humor color this classic “English countryside mystery.”