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Out of the Box

Twelve Novembers ago, Troy and I spent our first married Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law in Seattle in their mildewy starter-home the size of an egg carton. Just the four of us. We huddled around a card table with floor heaters, dealing hands of Euchre and Spades from dawn to dinner. At 9:30 a.m. my sister jumped to grab the pies from the oven, and I followed for moral support. At which time my sister cocked a giddy eyebrow and said, “why don’t we just eat pie right now?”



I didn’t have an answer. My 26 years of rule-following sort of paralyzed the Thanksgiving dare-devil in me, and I wondered if we really could. Eat pie, that is. Hot pie. Right now.

But then I nodded. And I laughed. And I felt something well within me. Yes. Goll darn it. Yes. Yes, I did want pie. A lot of pie.

At 10 a.m.

Which is how it happened that we forked down pumpkin pie for breakfast hours before the turkey even met the oven door.

The things is, I’ve not forgotten that feeling. That unsuspecting joy. That joy that came from shirking conventionalism or in-the-box thinking.

And though it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or pie, I got that feeling again–that giddy joy–on Monday and again on the days that followed when we pulled The Book of Virtues off the shelf and did a little unconventional learning.

You see. What I’ve learned about my daughter is that she needs to do something horribly distracting (to me) with her hands as she listens. Like flicking her pencil in circles. Or quietly graffiti-ing our dining room table. Or picking paint off the wall. Something.

But I’ve also noticed that she has a gift for expressing what she learns with her hands.

And so we tried…getting out of the box.

While she gathered ten scraps of anything from around the house, I opened The Book of Virtues.

Here’s what it looks like. A big thing. And within it are stories and excerpts of stories and biographies and poetry organized in categories of faith, courage, self-discipline, perseverance, friendship and so on.

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Together we read an excerpt by Sarah Bradford on the life of Harriet Tubman called The Moses of Her People. It was several pages, and yet, not long enough.

There were so many possible tangents.

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Only I asked that she take her scraps and create. With her fingers.

Something. Anything.

Twenty minutes later she tells me this is Harriet following her guide, the North Star.

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We did the same today. Collected scraps. Read a passage together. Let it simmer. And then created.

This piece, The Captain’s Daughter, tells how no one–not even the captain–thinks his ship can withstand the storm. But then the captain’s daughter asks, “Isn’t God upon the ocean, just the same as on the land?”

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And from scraps…the story.

And I’m giddy. Again.

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2 Responses to “Out of the Box”

  1. It makes me wish I could go back with one I love and do something “Not Reasonable”. H-m-m-m-m-m maybe
    it’s not too late. Think — Think — Think

    Thank you for the continuous heart stirrings, Jeanne

  2. Gail Redberg says:

    I love the beauty of your relationship with your children that you share.

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