Late Summer 2007
It's been 25 years since I mailed out the very first Chinaberry catalog. I find the fact that Chinaberry has evolved this far and is now 25 years old to be simply amazing.
We still have the old kitchen table that served as the packing station back when those first orders came in. Breakfast dishes were cleared, Elizabeth would toddle the 2 blocks to the Post Office with me to pick up the mail -- usually an order or two, if it was a good day -- and we'd come home to pack them up and send them on their way before her naptime.
After 25 years, the kitchen table is back to being just a kitchen table, and lo and behold, we have a 15,000 sq. ft warehouse where your orders are packed and shipped. Naptimes don't figure into it anymore. It's pretty hard to believe.
And little did I think when I was nursing my babies in the middle of the night, musing about the wonder and complexity of life with children, that those musings would become the ''Dear Friends'' letters in the catalog. Honestly, I really had no idea 25 years ago what lay ahead. All I'd really wanted at the time was to give other parents a place to get the special and wonderful children's books my own family devoured. Oh, and not to go broke while doing it.
And here we are. We're still getting orders from some of those same kitchen table customers, only they're ordering for grandchildren now. The kids who were read the books that Elizabeth and I packed together before her naptime are grown. I wonder where they are and how they are doing and if the books that were read to them have influenced them in ways that are good for our world. I'd sure like to think so, because that is what our mission statement is all about. I'd like to think that what we've offered our customers for the past 25 years has nurtured the young and not-so-young to be reverent, loving caretakers of each other and the earth. Because when all else falls away and you get down to the nitty gritty, isn't this what it's all about?