I bought a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women for my daughter a couple years ago. Because if you’re a literary mother, it’s the kind of thing that you do. Before I gave it to her, I read over the first chapter, and I was kind of surprised at how not-very-engaging it is. Basically, the four March sisters are hanging around the house, whining about Christmas and how crummy it’s going to be.
Tell me, again, how did this book get to be a classic of American girlhood? How does anyone even make it to Chapter Two?
I mean, clearly I loved it enough that I made sure to pass it down to my daughter. She tells me she’s even read it. And I know I’ve read it more times than I can count. It’s one of those cultural literacy things, I think. In Jean Webster’s book, Daddy-Long-Legs, Judy shows up at college with no knowledge of Little Women, and is forced to read it in her spare time so that she knows what her friends are talking about when they mention pickled limes.
You know what, I don’t think we own a copy of Daddy-Long-Legs. Must fix that, and soon.
I don’t know, maybe hanging around the house and whining during the dark month of December is so central to the human condition that we can all relate to it. I know that’s where I am myself right now. I don’t feel like cooking dinner at night. I don’t feel like being cheerful. Neither did the March sisters, and believe me, I get it.
Unfortunately for me, I’m no longer a teenage girl who gets to hang around whining and refusing to knit stockings. At my time of life, I’m supposed to be Marmee, whose brisk and cheery presence pulls the girls out of the abyss of bitching and moaning about how awful their lives are.
Man, I don’t know. Marmee sets the bar kind of high, you know? Do I have that in me? The ability to pull myself together and be an adult and not whine when the weather is dark and the days are short?
Well, I’ll tell you what, that’s going to involve some teeth-gritting on my part. But you know what might actually help? I think my family should go out and get our Christmas tree this Saturday. Having a tree with lights on it in the house always cheers me up.
All right, Marmee. Even though you are a fictional character, I accept your challenge.
Dark December, get out of the way. We’re getting our Christmas tree.
Also, how do you pronounce Marmee?
Love you & leave you,