Hayley Ziebart

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April 5, 2013
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Hayley Ziebart: Traditions

This year, for the first time in the six years I've been a mama, I did not do traditional Easter baskets for our boys. Not only did extended family and Easter weekend activities more than cover those bases anyway, but I really didn't feel like we had the money - or time - to do that this year.

I have to admit that having done cute, stuffed baskets every year - leaving them outside their bedroom door to 'magically' find and open up on Easter morning - I had a hard time with the idea of not doing so in the the days leading up.

Fortunately, when Easter Sunday did come around, we'd made the collective decision to head to Eugene early that morning for church with family. So we really didn't have time that morning even if I had done something.

Aside from that, our Easter was filled with multiple egg hunts, an Easter feast (provided by my loving and wonderful mom-in-love), multiple baskets from the family and a day of just being together, which collectively took me from feelings of guilt to feelings of pure relief that I'd decided to forego this year.

Being that it was still a holiday and an excuse to give the boys a little something, however, I'd ordered some very used but cheap book compilations off Amazon in the weeks before. Since Gray turned 5, I've wanted to start a significant evening tradition that my own wonderful and doting mama started for my brother and me as young children.

Chapter books.

A chapter a night or - on a rushed evening - a few pages was quite the treat - Ryann and I both loved it!
Not only was our mama a very theatrical reader (surprise, surprise), but it was a chance to snuggle close to her - no other agendas - play with her elbow skin, and travel to magical places in our minds.

As soon as Gray started really using his imagination wildly and enthusiastically, I wanted to start this... but Lincy was a tiny bit young yet and, to be quite honest, I was on my own busier agenda before the wake-up call of cancer.

We've always done nightly books and bible-studies, but chapter book reading takes more time and even more dedication - something I'm so glad to admit I've now been scared into doing since I'm thriving in the knowledge that tomorrow's aren't promised.

So what are we reading? Glad you asked.

I, Hayley Anne Ziebart, am an admitted "Little House on the Prairie" addict. As long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder, partially because they were one of the first chapter books that I recall our mama reading to us.

Of course, in the 1970s, the show came along, and even my poor brother remembers enduring rerun after rerun after rerun. From 4 to 5 p.m., every weekday, was my "Little House on the Prairie" time... regardless of whether or not I'd seen the episode 15 times.

Poor bro.

I really did love the show... but the book was first and I'm glad for that because books have a different magical effect. Laura had a different "look" and "voice" when I listened to Mama read the stories and I never did understand why certain characters were allowed into the TV show that the books never mentioned - though my adult view now understands Hollywood reasoning.

Anyway, for Easter, I ordered the whole set of Little House books - all 9 of them - and purposely chose the 1950's ones with black and white sketches on just a scattered few pages, so as to make my kids do as I did with their minds. In addition to that compilation, I found a box set of the C.S. Lewis series, another childhood favorite. We haven't even opened that one yet, as we started immediately into "Little House in the Big Woods," the first of the Little House series, on Sunday evening. I won't lie and say I didn't direct that somewhat.

What can I say? I was just as excited to order them as my boys are now excited to read them when bedtime rolls around.

Tonight, we broke the rules. Though I set the same one-chapter-a-night rule as my mama once did, we were much too into the story to put it down (and I am very purposely using the word we here.)

In fact, when chapter two rolled around, I agreed to "a few more pages" and no sooner it seemed, did I turn the page to see chapter three staring back at us. After a few minutes of the boys begging that we read "just a few more," I agreed but, that time, I really did stick to my guns (as much as I'm sure I could've stayed up half the night reading the rest of the whole book!)

The thing I find most surprising in re-reading these is they really aren't that great of writing. A few fun descriptives here and there within a chapter, but really, a lot of very unusual, period-marking tasks that get explained, throughout... like how to make your own smoker out of a hollow log! I had to explain to the boys that Pa had made a sort of homemade Big Green Egg, which spurred conversations such as, "So Pa went to the store and bought a hollow log?"

Pa wishes!

But these talks are exactly the point of such a tradition.

As I sat on the couch with my two babies snuggled up to me tonight, one on each side, I couldn't help but well up a bit inside at yet another reminder of how fleeting life is. Was it not just me beside my own mama, snuggled up and eagerly listening, asking such funny but understandable questions? At one point during our reading, Lincy grabbed my hand and wanted to hold it. Sometime later, my attention was re-directed to him playing with my fingers and nails, gently, but consciously. Memories of finding my mama's elbow and rubbing the loose skin around came rushing back and I found myself thinking... praying... that both of my boys will look back on this, years from now and appreciate this tradition with the same comfort it's given me. I pray that the whole point of such a family tradition will ring true when, they, too, want to do the same or similar for their kids, if just due to gaining the appreciation for such a gift during this current time.

And if I'm blessed to beat this awful disease, the world is still in existence and I'm lucky enough to still be alive... just maybe, I'll get to be a witness to such an awesome tradition, pressing and blessing on.

Hayley Ziebart is married with two sons. She is battling cancer. Read her Fridays on Douglas County Moms. Also check out her personal blog here.

What can I say? I was just as excited to order them as my boys are now excited to read them when bedtime rolls around.

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The News-Review Updated Nov 18, 2013 07:34PM Published Apr 15, 2013 08:10AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.