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Desperate Working Mommas
Your one-stop site for fanatical television snarking, questionable political analysis, occasional attempts to address the parenting issues facing working mothers, and halfhearted promises to stop obsessing about the entertainment industry, already! Oh, not to mention the random bitching and moaning. There's always that.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Old, Dear Friends

Last night I introduced my children to an old, dear friend. A friend who was with me on so many cozy winter afternoons when I sat curled up in front of the old wood-burning stove at my parents' house; so many sleepless nights when I lay with covers pulled tightly around me worrying or fighting nightmares; so many early mornings as I sat in my dad's old truck outside of the YMCA, waiting for him to finish lifting weights so he would drive me to gymnastics. A friend who even stuck right beside me through the horror of the stomach flu and the ickiness that is strep throat. Yes, an old, but infinitely dear friend.

So we all sat together, stuffing our faces with popcorn and soda, laughing at the timeless jokes we shared and crying over long-forgotten heartaches. I sat back and watched in awe as my friend lit up the room around me, bringing joy and wonder not just to me, but my children as well. I had never seen my friend like this before-- so vivid, so colorful, so heartachingly real; truthfully, it was so much more fantastical than I had ever hoped or even expected that it was a bit overwhelming at first. I could see by their upturned faces, and their wide, shining eyes, and their unnatural stillness as they soaked in every last word that my children seemed to love my old, dear friend almost as much as I. They were riveted.

As the minutes crept into hours, the happiness in my heart grew to an intensity so great that it seemed as if a feather-soft blanket were wrapping itself tightly around me, lovely and warm, making it difficult for me to move or to breathe; but when Allison tugged on my arm, asking me to pass the lemonade and popcorn, the magical spell my friend had cast over me cracked a bit and I could breathe again. Just barely. My heart was full.

Okay, so maybe it is strange that I love a book so much that I am moved to tears when I see it so faithfully, lovingly, and powerfully translated to the big screen, but "The Chronicles of Narnia" are my oldest, dearest friends, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in particular has held a special, not-so-secret place in my heart for as long as I can remember. I have read my old set of correctly-ordered books (before publishers-- in a stroke of apparent madness-- decided to publish the books chronologically rather than sequentially) so often that they are literally falling apart, but I cannot bear to replace them because all the newer books are just wrong, numbered incorrectly, with no regard for the order of things-- all willy-nilly-like!-- and it bothers me so much that I just keep taping all my old, dear friends back together so my children can read them and love them and appreciate them as much as I do.

So later last night when Hannah made a beeline for the bookshelf, then took off to her room clutching the next book in the series, Prince Caspian, to her chest, and I watched her crawl into bed and eagerly open the book to read, I knew my old, dear friend's magical appeal had already begun to cast a spell over her, over them. I watched her for a moment as she began to read.

My heart was full again.


link | posted by Cat at 12:48 PM

Blogger mrtl commented:

I can imagine you as a teacher, too, spreading that love and appreciation.

» 12/10/2005 5:15 PM 
Blogger Ern commented:

I saw it today! I loved it. And I have the very same edition of the boxed set. I am excited that they are bringing them to life so perfectly. It was truly beautiful.

What is this business about the order of the books? I hadn't ever heard anything about that, and then the other day someone was saying something about TLTWATW not being first? Enlighten me, if you wouldn't mind. :)

» 12/11/2005 12:58 AM 
Blogger Circus Kelli commented:

Cat, that's very, very cool...

» 12/11/2005 8:47 PM 
Blogger WILLIAM commented:

Very nice and very touching. Not one "Yo" "Y'all" or "Biznitch".

You are a remarkable writer.

» 12/12/2005 6:38 AM 
Blogger hemlock commented:

Very cool. I'm glad you enjoyed the movie.

When I saw the preview, my heart filled up and I just sat there in awe. It makes such a difference when the movie complements the book.

» 12/12/2005 7:30 AM 
Blogger Nessa commented:

Thank you for setting my feelings to words! I, too, have my old set that my daughter is now loving. I never knew they were a "cult" favorite much like LOTR (which I never read) - I just knew that they were my very favorite books and always would be.

P.S. Why are you moderating now?

» 12/12/2005 9:01 AM 
Blogger LadyBug commented:

What a sweet post. Just lovely.

» 12/12/2005 9:21 AM 
Anonymous kalki commented:

Aww, beautiful post. And sweet, too.

» 12/12/2005 12:14 PM 
Blogger Amy commented:

Ahhhh. I loved this. From one reader to another, Cat, I hear you loud and clear. And I hope hope hope that of my own brood, one will be a reader like your girl.

» 12/12/2005 10:06 PM 
Blogger Cat commented:

OMG! Yo! I'm feeling the Narnia Love, biznitches! (That's for you , William!)

Sorry about the moderating thing! Yes, FINE, I am one of those people who presses buttons with no idea what will happen...

» 12/13/2005 9:58 AM 
Blogger Cat commented:

For ern (and anyone else who is curious):

WARNING: I am about to be extraordinarily long-winded. :)

As you can see here, the publishers of the books apparently sat down one day and brainstormed how best to ruin the flow of the books in much-adored fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. "I know!" I imagine somebody said. "Since Sir Lewis obviously did not plan ahead and wrote prequels to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we should totally fix the order of the books because how stupid is that?! And hey! They're called Chronicles, so how about we put 'em in CHRONOLOGICAL order?! Get it?! Chronicles in chronological order?!" And everyone was all, "Yes! Fabulous! We Rock!" Except, OH NO THEY DIDN''T.

So instead of publishing the books in the order they were written: 1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; 2. Prince Caspian; 3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 4. The Silver Chair; 5. The Horse and His Boy; 6. The Magician's Nephew; 7. The Last Battle; they have rearranged them in a chronological sequence; from the creation of Narnia to its destruction: 1. The Magician's Nephew; 2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; 3; The Horse and His Boy; 4. Prince Caspian; 5. THe Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 6. The Silver Chair; 7. The Last Battle.

You see, to me, much of the joy of the books is based on the gradual discovery about the magical world of Narnia, and the slow uncovering of various aspects of Narnia's history. When you read five whole books, then come to The Magician's Nephew, and you find out why the lantern was in Lantern Waste, and why the animals talked, why a Son of Adam and Daughter of Eve must always sit at Cair Paravel, who Jadis (AKA: THe White Witch) really was, and how in the world Lucy could get into Narnia through that darn wardrobe anyway, well, it is illuminating. It enhances the reading experience in a very special way, in that you have journeyed so far in the world Lewis created and you understand the nuances. But The Magician's Nephew-- quite honestly-- is not the best way to introduce the series, because it relies on much pre-existing knowledge that Lewis knew his readers poseessed when he wrote this book. Plus The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe IS the better introductory book. It pulls readers in, makes them want to read more about the Pevensies' adventures. The Magician's Nephew reads more as a backstory after the fact. As well it should because that is what Lewis INTENDED TO DO when he wrote it. The same goes for The Horse and His Boy, which is one of my favorites, but would not be as satisfying if I didn't already have a pretty solid foundation regarding the ways of Narnia.

Changing the order is like telling a person what the present is before they open it. It's still neat, but not as cool as if you enjoyed all the box shaking, and guessing, and imagining what in the world that person bought for you. To me, anyway. It not about the chronology, it's about the story. The content.

Dude. Ern. I am such a GEEK.

» 12/13/2005 10:51 AM 

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