Friday, December 11, 2009
Tanya Hanson: An Alcott Christmas Poem
All of us authors have experienced The Moment we knew we wanted to write a book. For me, it happened when I read Little Women for the first time the Christmas I was eight years old. Unlike Jo, though, I waited until my kids were in college to take writing seriously, and of course wish I had started sooner.
You may already know that Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women upon the suggestion of a publisher, and based the characters on her own sisters. Indeed, "Meg's" wedding dress is on display at Orchard House, the family home in Concord, Massachusetts. There in Concord, the teenage Louisa May hung out with the Transcendental greats, Emerson and Thoreau.
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was born in Pennsylvania and worked as a nurse during the War between the States. Her stories of strong values and American folkways have delighted readers for generations.
Not long ago, I had the almost mystical pleasure of visiting Orchard House and pondering at Louisa May's grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery down the road. At Orchard House, I bought a new favorite book, A Louisa May Alcott Christmas and couldn't resist sharing this delightful poem with you today.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may 2010 bring you every good thing.
Cold and wintry is the sky,
Bitter winds go whistling by,
Orchard boughs are bare and dry,
Yet here stands a faithful tree.
Household fairies kind and dear,
With loving magic none need fear,
Bade it rise and blossom here,
Little friends, for you and me.
Come and gather as they fall,
Shining gifts for great and small;
Santa Claus remembers all
When he comes with goodies piled.
Corn and candy, apples red,
Sugar horses, gingerbread,
Babies who are never fed,
Are handing here for every child.
Shake the boughs and down they come,
Better fruit than peach or plum,
'T is our little harvest home;
For though frosts the flowers kill,
Though birds depart and squirrels sleep,
Though snows may gather cold and deep,
Little folks their sunshine keep,
And mother-love makes summer still.
Gathered in a smiling ring,
Lightly dance and gayly sing,
Still at heart remembering
The sweet story all should know,
Of the little Child whose birth
Has made this day throughout the earth
A festival for childish mirth,
Since the first Christmas long ago.