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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Easter Basket

Several years ago my daughter's friend, who we shall call Lucy, came to live with us when her mom suddenly and unexpectedly died. 

I hadn’t known Lucy’s mom, or anything about Lucy's holiday traditions. Of all the worries and possible obstacles that could attend taking in a kid, I realize now that it’s a bit odd that it was the fear of messing up her Easter that really got me by the throat. 

I’d been on Easter-egg-hunts, eaten more than my share of Jordon Almonds and Cadbury eggs and I’d certainly seen and coveted any number of Easter baskets over the decades. But I’d never had an Easter basket of my own or created one for anyone else. Let alone someone with a recently deceased mother. 

I snuck away to Michael's while the kids were at school, and promptly discovered that there was no one right way to do this Easter Basketing thing.  Who knew there were so many kinds of basket grass, not to mention baskets. Big? Little? Wicker? Cloth? Plastic in classic Easter pastels? 

Whole aisles were dedicated to cuteness, including myriad pre-filled, ready-made Easter baskets tented in colorful plastic-wrap and tied with pretty bows. 

Had Lucy’s mom nestled toy lambys in her Easter grass? Did she arrange a tableau of wind-up chicks, chocolate Easter Rabbits and marshmallow Peeps?  

Had her mom left the basket by Lucy's bed so she’d wake up and see it first thing? Did it include a note from the Easter Bunny?  Perhaps there had been a trail of clues... little bunny droppings or jelly beans leading to the basket?

Oy. I asked the Michael's sales staff probing questions about their personal basket experiences. Then made frantic phone calls to gentile friends. 

Ultimately however, as with every crisis, I had to accept that I was alone. For better or worse the decisions were mine to make.

That realization didn’t make me particularly calm or confident, but I did manage to make some purchases. I lugged my stuff home to stress over and arrange while the kids slept. Then I lay in bed fearing that my Easter basket failure would topple poor Lucy into bottomless grief.  

Was the wrongness of my basket going to shock Lucy into realizing that this wasn’t just a long pajama party, that her mother was really gone, and that nothing would ever be the same?   

I nervously shoved my baskets at the kids the second they awoke Easter morning. 

“Oh cool!” Lucy said. “An Easter basket! I’ve never had one before.”

xo Amy

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Impossible Library!

Here’s an idea! 
How about if we buy all the books we can, new and classics in every genre and many languages, and subscribe to dozens of newspapers and magazines from around the world. Then let’s organize these materials in logical order, cataloging and cross referencing them by author, by subject, and by title. 

Then let's get some computers and copy machines and printers.  

We’ll put it all in a building, and we’ll heat and cool that building, and light it well, and keep it clean and safe. Then let's arrange chairs and tables and cozy reading spots and clean bathrooms. 

We could hire people who have trained for many years to use the system to work as helpers and guides. Then we'll open the doors to anyone who wants to come in and read the books and magazines and newspapers, or use the computers, and we won’t charge them a single cent.

Yes, anyone; and yes, free.

And if people want to borrow the books and movies and audio books and take them home, we’ll give them a card and let them do that, too, at no charge.

How about if we offer lectures for the adults, and story hour for the tots, and book clubs for the teens, and movies for everyone? And summer reading programs? And let's make that all absolutely free, as well.

It doesn’t sound possible, does it?

Sounds like some Utopian idealist’s unachievable pipe dream. Such free, public access could not possibly work in our reality, our harsh times. All the books would surely disappear. The free open spaces would be vandalized.

And yet, here we are. 
Welcome to the Library!

xo Amy

(I wrote this piece for the Friends of the Glendale Public Library news letter. But please do feel free to pass it on to your own libraries, librarians and library patrons. And join your local Friends of the Library! Your tiny dues buys so much for so many!)