Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Dear Friends

To celebrate our 30th year of being in business, we're re-running one of our most popular 'Dear Friends' letters from the past. The following appeared in the catalog 20 years ago:

While thoroughly dusting our family's bookshelf awhile back, I ran across a tattered, well-loved copy of Goodnight Moon. Putting the cleaning operation on hold, I sat on the floor, opened the book, and read it aloud, my echoing voice searching the empty house for some small ears to fill. I wondered when the last time I'd ever read it to Evan had been. Was he perhaps three then? Was it at bedtime or in the middle of the afternoon, as I was trying to get Chinaberry orders out, that he had last asked for that book? Whenever it was, I felt no angel tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to stop and cherish that moment for it would be the very last time I'd be reading Goodnight Moon to my child. What was really a special occasion just sort of slid by without my knowing it was -- well -- the end of an era.

Every time I fold the diapers that have now become the mainstay of our rag bag, I feel the same way. How many times did I put on and take off and wash this very diaper that now serves us so well for washing the car or mopping up spills? Was it in the wee hours of some morning or during a trip to the playground that I pinned my very last diaper? I wish I would have known at the time what a passage that moment was. Instead, it was just business as usual, and the moment was gone. The same goes for that Fisher-Price boat Elizabeth had to have in the bathtub with her when she was a toddler. I placed it on the side of the tub after her bath one night, like I always did, but it had been played with the last time already, and I didn't know it. It was only a few months later, while preparing a Salvation Army bag, that I realized yet another phase had passed.

This past summer, something made me slow down, to do only one thing at a time. (If you knew me, you'd know how uncharacteristic this is.) I've always envied people who need only 4 hours of sleep a night because, fantasizing, I immediately translate those extra awake hours to more books read, a garden weeded, time spent volunteering somewhere, a new bread recipe tried, or my desk organized, for once. Simply put, there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to do everything I'd like to do. (Having heard my 'Life’s too short to be bored!' diatribe one too many times, my children now use 'the B word' to refer to 'bored' and make it a point to not act 'B-ed' around me.) I tell you this because if I can slow down, almost anyone can. The catalyst was finding remnants of the past -- like frayed diapers and our old Goodnight Moon in that dusty, overflowing bookcase -- and realizing that nearly every day holds a 'last' just as it likely holds a 'first.' Nothing will ever be quite the same as it is today. It is only by living each moment as if it were the most important moment of my life that I can sense both the magic and immensity of my job as a parent. This past summer, it all clicked -- because I slowed down.

We spend so much time looking forward -- anticipating the birth of our baby, awaiting that first step, sweating out who's going to make the All-Star soccer team, saving for a college education -- that it is easy to miss the NOW. It seems like a paradox that it took running across things from the past to make me better able to savor the present, but that's just how it worked out for me. And even though I felt no angel tapping me on the shoulder to tell me that I was reading Goodnight Moon to Evan for the very last time, I believe one was there while I dusted the bookshelf, sorted through the rags, and packed up the Salvation Army bag. My wish for you this season is that one visits you too, whenever you need your reminders.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Holiday 2008

Fall 2008

Late Summer 2008

Midsummer 2008

Early Summer 2008

Late Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Early Spring 2008

Winter 2007

Holiday 2007

Fall 2007

Late Summer 2007

Midsummer 2007

Early Summer 2007

Late Spring 2007

Spring 2007

Early Spring 2007

Winter 2006

Holiday 2006

Fall 2006

Late Summer 2006

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