Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Trip to the Library.

A few years back I heard a story about a single mother of two little boys, ages 7 and 9. Her husband had passed away the year before and she was having a hard time making it on her own. She could barely afford a one bedroom apartment in a bad part of town. She let the boys share the bedroom, and she crashed on the couch. The little family was coming up on their first Christmas withoout the father, and the mother was stressing about gifts. She knew that there was no way she could afford to buy her sons presents, but that Christmas had always been one of the things in all of life that delighted them most. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, both of the children gave her short crinkled messages on lined paper for her to pass on to Santa. Her insides were torn up by this gesture, but somehow she managed to plaster a convincing smile on her face. She would figure something out.

On the 25th the boys came into her bedroom and woke her up earlier than usual. They were excited to gather around the small plastic tree on the end table and discover what Santa had delivered. When they tore off the wrapping paper, and discovered two sizable stacks of books... they couldn't contain their joy. Mother looked on with tears straining at the corner of her eyes, and grasped them up in a large and lasting hug. She hoped that somehow they would not notice the plastic covers on the books, and the demarcation letters and numbers on their spines. She did not want to think about how she would explain to her little angels that the books needed to be returned to the library in three weeks. For now she just wanted to enjoy the warmth of their embrace.

That's a pretty sad story, huh? Yup... and it's also completely f'ing made up. The scenario occured to me at the Carnegie Library today. It's all kinds of maudlin crap that tends to fill my head during this time of the year. "Gift of the Magi" and all of that blather... but it's true that stuff like this really happens. I mean, if I can imagine it... it's no doubt been done by someone at one time or another. Is it in the spirit of human nobility, or just downright pathetic? Let it be repeated a few times, and let it grow into some trite tale with a moral... and it will stop meaning anything.

Anyway... M. and I went to the library with the intention of getting armfuls of graphic novels to read during our winter break. There's really not much cozier an activity I can think of... other than maybe doing it in front of a working fireplace. (Yeah, you know what I mean.) We came home with thirty books. That's an entire score short of the limit of the library's generosity. Evidently more can be negotiated too, if there's some kind of genuine need. And it's all free! When was the last time you went to the library? If you lived in Pittsburgh and saw the graphic novel section, you'd be surprised. They've got all sorts of stuff, and it's "Not Just For Kids". Why don't you stop down there and treat yourself? Believe me... you have no idea. We even thought to leave some of behind for you.


Anonymous jefg99 said...

..and, you didn't even mention the CDs and DVDs and VHS (yes, still have those) that are free for the borrowing. Entire year's of TV shows, holiday music. instructional and travel videos, great classic movies. Sometimes I feel guilty borrowing and not buying, but it's wonderful nonetheless. If you can get over not owning a novel after you've read it, it's a great way to expand your horizons. I'm surprised there's not a line at the checkout, as there is at Borders or Barnes and Noble.

And, I really liked your little story. Surprised I hadn't heard or seen that one before, but it's a good and imaginative one. Reading IS fundamental.

7:47 PM  

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