Last month I set out to share Anne of Green Gables with my girls, and share it we did, even through several weeks of sickness. It was a very enjoyable and comforting ritual for us to read a chapter or two at night just as they settled in for their own bedtime reading. (This is our normal M.O., but something about reading Anne together made it feel a little more special.) As I mentioned in the post I linked above, this was neither of my girls’ first encounter with Anne; Lulu has read the entire series (more or less–she confesses to not caring for Anne of Windy Poplars and mostly skimming it) and Louise had met Anne but found her not entirely to her liking. (NEWSFLASH: I’m realizing that just because I LOVE something doesn’t mean that my girls will; in fact, it is often quite to the contrary of that! Thus is the nature of parenting.) I was a little surprised that reading Anne aloud to them felt a little bit disappointing. Oh, we all enjoyed it–yes!–even Louise! Still, knowing they already knew what was going to happen took the bloom off the rose just a little bit for me. They received both movies for Christmas, too, and so we watched the first volume early on. Thus, they had experienced Anne in both print and screen format, so they knew it.
Two things keep this from being a real disappointment to me. First, I had forgotten how much I enjoy Anne. It had been maybe twenty years since I’d read any of the Anne books! (I’m not even sure how this is possible!) I’ve participated in Carrie’s challenge for several years now, but all this time I have focused on all the non-Anne books. I’ve made quite a dint in them, if I do say so myself. (You can find links to all my L.M. Montgomery reviews in this post.) It was really nice to rediscover her, like meeting up with an old friend after a few decades. Second, I know now that Lulu is well and truly hooked, and perhaps Louise is on her way. I can tell because of the little grin Lulu would get on her face while I read.
On Friday we had an Anne of Green Gables party, which is grander than it sounds. I started planning it last week to celebrate finishing the first book together. That was before I really knew how difficult this week would be: a sick child, a traveling husband, cold weather, cabin fever, wintertime blues, parenting difficulties–you know, the stuff of life. I dreamed of having a fancy tea party or a well-executed “party school” type party, complete with activities and decorations, etc. In the end we had a couple of friends over–one for each of the big kids and a bonus sibling. We had lunch, which the girls pretty much prepared themselves: raspberry cordial, chicken salad, cucumber sandwiches, cheesecake, and cupcakes (mostly for the littles, who also had pb&j’s). Our decor consisted of watercolor hearts made from coffee filters, candy conversation hearts, and my Green Gables teapot. We also had caramels (in honor of Anne’s affinity for them), heart cookies and maple leaf cookies (in honor of Canada!), and heart-shaped white chocolate pretzels. The real purpose for the party, though, was to watch the movie with friends. The girls watched all of the first movie. One of my fondest memories of my teen years is bonding with friends over Anne and Gil, and this was my way of handing that down to my girls.
The main way I know that I’m passing on this legacy, though, is because my girls want to keep on reading the series together. I asked, and after very little debate, they said yes. This year, then, will be The Year of Anne. We’re already about five chapters in to Anne of Avonlea, and what fun I’ve already had with it. Because it has been years upon years since I’ve revisited the series, the later books hold near surprises for me and my faulty memory.
I have no rainbows-and-unicorns stories to tell about our first foray into the world of Anne together, but I am looking forward to a very good year.
(I owe this time spent every January to Carrie and her L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. This year’s wrap-up is here.)