When I started elementary school, our classroom's weekly visit to the small, but stuffed-to-capacity, school library was a highlight for me. One of the first books I borrowed was "A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays" by Tasha Tudor.
The little girl in the story asks her granny what it was like when her mommy was a child. The wise older woman recounts celebration after celebration, month by month, ranging from "happy New Year" party suppers to a Christmas crèche visit in the nearby woodlands.
I loved the book's soft, pastel illustrations of life's merry moments, even though none of the children pictured resembled me.
It delighted me to read about valentines delivered by sparrow post, dances around the maypole, and glowing birthday cakes floating down the river.
The school librarian was supposed to allow me to renew the book only once before reshelving it, but she often made an exception to the rule as long as no one had requested it. The book was in my possession nearly the entire time from early fall until holiday break.
Then, happily, I found my own copy under our glittering Christmas tree that December.
My mom read me the story dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times. I never forgot it.
As an adult, I thought of writing Tasha Tudor and letting her know how much it heartened me to realize that some wonderful occasion was always still to come. Whatever challenges I faced or strains I endured, the belief that joy was forever accessible made me resilient.
I didn't take action to thank Ms. Tudor because I figured my note wouldn't impress her much among all the fan mail she undoubtedly received.
I had qualms, too, because I knew my words could never adequately convey the appreciation I had for her work. Upon learning of her death last month, I felt a twinge of regret that I missed my opportunity.
Then again, maybe I'm not too late. Now is my season to celebrate gratitude, and it is a time I will keep.
Traverse City, Mich.
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