Micro-memories of past holidays
28 December 2011
My mom had positioned the bed right next to a shelf of some of her favorite children’s books from back during her teaching days. Thus, every holiday visit turned into an opportunity for regression.
I regressed not just because I was 31 and
- still in grad school
- still refusing to marry or have children, both on principles my parents surely found somewhat eccentric
- still coming home for every winter break
- still answering questions like “how’s your dissertation coming along?” (a question for which there are no comforting answers)
It’s a regression to the ca. 12-year-old me, who upon finishing a book immediately flipped back to page 1. That practice of re-reading seems to have ended in high school; even now I only re-read those books I keep assigning in my classes (and let’s face it: class assignments don’t count).
Thus, what fun to re-read childhood favorites like E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, or — silliest of all — Roald Dahl’s The Witches.
(This title is excellent and I also quite liked the film version, with Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch. In contrast, I think the film version of Matilda  actually improves on Dahl’s original book, and features the best little Mara Wilson in the title role and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman as her horrible parents.)
In recent years the room has been reorganized again, such that the children’s books have been shelved in some other part of the house. Somehow the fact that those spines aren’t sitting there next to me every night has prevented me from hunting them down and staying up every night till 3am, giggling over that deliciously scary/silly moment in The Witches when the little boy sees all the witches whipping their wigs off their scabby heads and scratching their scalps with their clawed hands.
Don’t worry: I still do a lot of reading while I’m there. I still seem to arrive with a minimum of four books.
But thinking about how different this year’s visit was has made me want to visit the library and pick up a couple of titles. And maybe push Matilda up to the top of my Netflix queue.