26 December 2010

Lessons from "Little Women"

I didn't grow up with cable, so Christmas never included 24 hours straight of "The Christmas Story" or any other countless holiday movies. But it is certainly one aspect of Christmas that I enjoy now. So when I laid down one night and saw that Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" was on, I was thrilled. I remember really liking the movie when I was younger, but I seemed to get so much more out of it this time. There were a few things that really struck me this time. I don't know if it is because I am getting old, or if it the phase of life I am in, but I wanted to share.

1- Simplicity - I loved all the Christmas decorations: the hand-tied garland that flanked every entryway, the bows tied from left-over red scraps. I am so often ashamed by my ridiculous amount of possessions, purchased for a ridiculous amount of money at some store, or from some garage sale. After watching the movie, I was inspired to make my own wreath. Something I have always wanted to do. It wasn't crazy hard, it didn't take forever, but it certainly took time. It took energy, and I ended up with something I was proud to put on my door. But what if I had to make everything I used? Every article of clothing that had to be cut and sewn? Every grain of wheat that had to be harvested, dried and ground? Would I think twice about my "needs"? Something as simple as chicken stock, bread, pasta, butter - what if I had to make these things everytime you wanted it? Perhaps I would be more cautious of the things I use.

2- Simple Food - The March family has fallen on hard times during the war, as has the whole community. On Christmas morning they lay a breakfast spread that each girl marvels at. The main delight? Bread with butter. Later, Joe is in New York and has meet Prof. Bear. At one point he hands her a gift - a simple orange. Later that night she writes by candlelight while eating her pealed orange. Would I be satisfied with a simple orange as my bedtime snack? I think about my options each night for a snack. The food in my fridge, freezer and pantry could probably feed my family for weeks, maybe months. I work hard to make simple, unprocessed foods for my family. Yet thinking about this made me realize just how far from "simple" I live.

3- Some things don't change - I never liked Amy, in the book or the movie. I still remember reading the book as a child, and throwing the book across the room when Amy marries Laurie. And I was so upset when she waisted a whole months rag money on limes. What a silly desire. But don't we all do that, buy into something simple that every one else wants? I do it. The "all natural" looking toys I like my children to have, trendy clothes, a well-designed home. These are my 26 limes that cost my family a whole months rag money.

4- I am old - I remember watching this movie when I was in highschool, and I was not satisfied at all when Joe ended up with Prof. Bear. Why? Because Laurie was a young, energetic character while Prof. Bear was old. What happened when I watched it this time? Somehow Prof Bear wasn't so old. He was charming, intelligent, and sophisticated. The movie certainly didn't change, it must be me. I must be getting old, because the ending was so much more satisfying this time.

I watched the movie with Annalia this time. I know it was silly, to think that she would enjoy it at her age. She didn't. She kept asking if we could watch "An American Tale" instead. I really hope I didn't ruin it for her. At the end, she said "I didn't like that movie." Probably had something to do with Joe (a boy's name) ending up with the old guy.