Friday Fave: Stick Together Families, A Poem by Edgar Guest

In general, I am not a poetry lover. There are a few poems I’ve encountered over the years that I have enjoyed. For instance, one of my favorite poems is If, by Rudyard Kipling. There are also the poems of Robert Frost which highlight the beautiful convergence of nature and human existence. Funny kid poems such as Eugene Field’s The Duel are wonderful in their playful way, and kids love it. That makes it one worth remembering

Nevertheless, you won’t find very many poetry collections on our bookshelves. Emily Dickinson? Meh. Walt Whitman? I guess, if you like that sort of thing. Poetry is just not something that piques my literary interest as much as it should.

There is one modern poet that I like, because his poetry is relatable, easy for the modern mind, and has something to offer in the current zeitgeist. His name is Edgar Guest (1881-1959), and while he was born in Britain, he lived most of his life, from age 10, in the United States. The website poets.org describes him this way, and I heartily agree:

Guest has been called “the poet of the people.” Most often, his poems were fourteen lines long and presented a deeply sentimental view of everyday life. He considered himself “a newspaper man who wrote verses.” 

Recently, our family was discussing this poem of his. It is called “The Stick Together Families”, and while it is not my favorite of his, it seems particularly important in a world where the importance of family bonds is under constant assault. I hope you enjoy it.

The Stick Together Families

The stick-together families are happier by far
Than the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.
The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who make
A circle at the fireside that no power but death can break.
And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sun
Are the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.

There are rich folk, there are poor folk, who imagine they are wise,
And they’re very quick to shatter all the little family ties.
Each goes searching after pleasure in his own selected way,
Each with strangers likes to wander, and with strangers likes to play.
But it’s bitterness they harvest, and it’s empty joy they find,
For the children that are wisest are the stick-together kind.

There are some who seem to fancy that for gladness they must roam,
That for smiles that are the brightest they must wander far from home.
That the strange friend is the true friend, and they travel far astray
they waste their lives in striving for a joy that’s far away,
But the gladdest sort of people, when the busy day is done,
Are the brothers and the sisters who together share their fun.

It’s the stick-together family that wins the joys of earth,
That hears the sweetest music and that finds the finest mirth;
It’s the old home roof that shelters all the charm that life can give;
There you find the gladdest play-ground, there the happiest spot to live.
And, O weary, wandering brother, if contentment you would win,
Come you back unto the fireside and be comrade with your kin.

And oh yes. Happy New Year!

End of the Year: Looking Forward and Backward

Bloggy year-end round-up

We only covered 10 books and/or stories this year:

This is a very short list of literature, and it doesn’t include the books that I read -or at least mostly read- but didn’t make time to review them.

There were 15 Word Nerd Wednesday posts. I always enjoy dissecting words, their meanings and origins, as well as the evolution of language so those posts are always fun to write.

The remaining posts of 2021 were a random conglomeration of posts on numerous subjects. The majority were related to education, but a few covered politics and culture, and an even smaller percentage were personal bits of moments in daily life.

If I had to sum up 2021 with a word or expression, it would easily be learning curve.

This year was marked new balls tossed into the daily juggling act, and they were things I’d either not done in almost 30 years, or had never done before. The things got done, but they weren’t all done well enough for me to be satisfied with them.

Because of the aforementioned, my expression/goal for 2022 is to move from learning the curve to riding the wave through becoming more skilled and a better manager of things. The corollary to riding the wave is purging the unnecessary, which is not one of my strong suits. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m not a fan of resolutions, but I feel like I need to make a plan so that I don’t start 2022 with the feeling I had as this year ended. Namely, I felt as if I was always chasing my life, trying to keep up. Too stressful; especially for a planner like me.

On a more serious note, one thing I want to improve is to handle all these things with grace and skill, and yet without forgetting to trust God with the results and having peace with whatever comes.

After all, 2022 is looking like it may be a doozy of a year, politically and economically. I’d like to believe none of those tremors are going to affect our day to day living, but seeing as I have not done a good job of prepping so that I can laugh at the days ahead, I’ll need to keep my wits about me.

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas and Lord Willing, I’ll meet you back here sometime next year!

Short Story: The Heavenly Christmas Tree

I’ve wondered on more than one occasion what to make of the fact that I find the late Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky so comforting. Plenty of people love Dostoyevsky, I don’t believe that makes me in any way special. It’s that I find his rather dark expressions of the world comforting. What many think of as dark, I view as realistic, and accepting the world as it is can be comforting as much as alarming.

That was actually a warm up to the very sad short story I am linking to as this year’s Christmas post. It’s called The Heavenly Christmas Tree, is a very short read (15 minutes at most), and is readily available for free on the web.

It’s a sad story with a joyful ending because it ends in Heaven, but its journey is a mournful one. Although this is Advent and not Easter, reading it reminds me of Christ’s journey to Calvary. It too was a mournful one that culimnated with the joy; the joy of His resurrection and ascension.

Here’s a snippet of Dostoyevsky’s compelling and beautifully written short story:

Touching his mother’s face, he was surprised that she did not move at all and that she was as cold as the wall. “It is very cold here,” he thought. He stood a little, unconsciously letting his hands rest on the dead woman’s shoulders, then he breathed on his fingers to warm them, and then quietly fumbling for his cap on the bed, he went out of the cellar. He would have gone earlier, but was afraid of the big dog which had been howling all day at the neighbor’s door at the top of the stairs. But the dog was not there now, and he went out into the street.

Mercy on us, what a town! He had never seen anything like it before. In the town from which he had come, it was always such black darkness at night. There was one lamp for the whole street, the little, low-pitched, wooden houses were closed up with shutters, there was no one to be seen in the street after dusk, all the people shut themselves up in their houses, and there was nothing but the howling of packs of dogs, hundreds and thousands of them barking and howling all night. But there it was so warm and he was given food, while here—oh dear if he only had something to eat! And what a noise and rattle here, what light and what people, horses and carriages, and what a frost! The frozen steam hung in clouds over the horses, over their warmly breathing mouths; their hoofs clanged against the stones through the powdery snow, and everyone pushed so, and—oh, dear, how he longed for some morsel to eat, and how wretched he suddenly felt. A policeman walked by and turned away to avoid seeing the boy.

You should read the rest. At the very least, it should inspire gratitude for the bounty most of us are enjoying this Christmas season. At most, it will inspire longing for the feast that awaits us at the end of all temporal things.

Merry Christmas!

Friday Fave: Matt Walsh Story Hour

Conservative podcast host Matt Walsh is now a best-selling children’s author. His new book, released by the Daily Wire’s publishing arm, is titled Johnny the Walrus.

It’s a board book for kids with a whimsical, common sense, and explicitly non-political take on the trangender craze. He never uses the terms “trans” or “gender” or “sex” in the book, but the message is clear.

Walsh, as anyone who has watched his show is well aware, is not an exemplar of charisma, gregariousness, or charm. His shtick is more like an angry old man in a young man’s body most of the time. That’s what makes this video so very funny to me!

Watch as Walsh reads his new book to a room full of young kids. I loved every second. Our family laughed out loud.

Happy Friday and enjoy!

Just for Laughs

Babylon Bee produces the best satire. Sometimes, in our increasingly clownish world, the satire blurs over into reality. This is not one of those cases, as the humor is fairly obvious, but it’s close.

Enjoy!

Rabbit Trail Post: Of Arrows and Juggling Acts

This week is a prime example of the myth of the “stay-at-home-wife/mother” who doesn’t work. To be fair, I know that if you’re reading here, you likely are not among that ideological crowd, but the image persists nonetheless.

This week I am trying -often poorly- to juggle a million little things at once. I don’t think that makes me in any way special. I think it’s typical of the feminine life. It is why women are less likely to live the arrow kind of life that Hearthie wrote so well about in this post:

Like most all of you, I am knee deep in preparations for Thanksgiving. We are hosting, which means the typical one-two punch of meal prep plus house prep. Even when you clean regularly, you inevitably notice those cracks and crevices that need improvement as you anticipate the arrival of people who do not live with you on a daily basis. However, the Thanksgiving prep is just one more thing on an ever expanding pile.

There’s the ever-present teaching prep. There’s our kids’ big drama production that is three weeks away. There are lots of costume, set, and prop preparations that the moms all deal with. This yearly event is fun but demanding. When we see our kids on stage, it will all have been worth it, but getting there is a beast.

There’s our church Christmas party, our school’s Christmas party, the Christmas cookie bake I’m hosting. None of those takes into account the normal stuff of Christmas that everyone deals with. Christmas cards? Ugh. Don’t remind me.

I haven’t even mentioned the work of keeping records for my husband’s independent contracting work. There are a million other things I need to find the time to comb through also. I’m sure I’ve left out something, but that’s more than enough for you to get the idea. You’re no doubt living a similar life as well.

This however, is the normal trajectory of the feminine life. We may not be arrows, but our contributions are enduring and of a different sort. I often say to women who fancy that we can anything that a man can do: Men build civilizations, yes, but women build societies. Even if we could do everything that men can do [we can’t], no one is served when we abandon our posts, or veer out of our lanes.

Arrows are only as valuable as there are healthy societies in which the trails they blaze can provide usefulness to the overall target. It’s a luxury of modernity that we fixate on the great things we might be able to do if only we weren’t doing…what we should be doing? I am reminded of these words from the Apostle Paul

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts,e yet one body.”

So, to my dear sisters, if you find that being stretched thin keeps you from being an arrow who can change the world through your the passionate commitment to that one thing that means so much to you, don’t lament. God, in His good Providence, has given you a patch of ground to till. Till it with joy.

(*she encourages herself on an overwhelming day*).