On February 7, 1867 (150 years ago), one of the most notable and beloved children’s author of all times was born – Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her Little House on the Prairie books were happily introduced to me in 4th grade. Santa Claus delivered them under my tree, and they continue to be one of my most cherished gifts of all time.
These books (and Michael Landon’s Little House on the Prairie television series) offer more than just entertaining stories of Laura’s pioneering days. They taught me hundreds of lessons. Here are just a few. First, value family and love. Second, hard work is rewarding. Next, forgive and appreciate being forgiven. There will be good times but just as many difficult times. Faith in God is important. And finally, treasure the small things in life.
The Value of Gifts
Reflecting on the small things in life takes me back to just a few months ago. The hustle and bustle of the holidays were upon us. (And in 11 months we will start again. We will face the stress of buying the perfect gifts. Perhaps spending more than we should and wondering if the gifts will be put aside, exchanged, returned, forgotten, or even worse, regifted! ) It was during those hectic shopping days that I thought about some of Laura’s Christmas gifts.
Laura describes these gifts in Little House on the Prairie. Mr. Edwards risks his life to cross a rising creek with a swift current to deliver Laura and Mary their four gifts from Santa Claus. These gifts delight Laura: a “glittering new tin cup…peppermint candy, striped red and white…a little heart-shaped cake…a shining bright, new penny!” Laura writes, “Think of having a cup and a cake and a stick of candy and a penny. There never had been such a Christmas.”
Bible References from Laura Ingalls Wilder
Oh to travel back to those days! Would our children appreciate gifts like those instead of an iPhone, video game, or a myriad of electronic gadgets? On a visit to my sister in North Dakota, we made a pilgrimage to Laura’s homes in South Dakota and Minnesota. At one of our stops, we picked up a paper with a list of Bible references. At the top of the paper is a brief explanation. “These Bible references in Laura’s handwriting were in her small Bible and on the table near her rocker where she sat to read. “ Laura lists 16 Bible references. Eventually I will share all with you, but in the midst of the craziness of the holidays this is the one I used. She listed:
“When discouraged read 23 & 24 Psalm.”
Thank you, Laura! You reminded me of the most important gift: God our Shepherd. Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder.