My oldest daughter is a 10th grade English teacher in the Washington D.C. area. Amy is spending some of her summer vacation here at home. She graciously offered to guest post for me today. I didn’t know what she was going to write about until it was finished, and of course, I cried. I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit more about our family and the culture of beauty in our home.
by Amy Nicholson
I’ve always thought of our home as the one described in Little Women:
December snow fell quietly without, and the fire crackled cheerfully within. It was a comfortable room, though the carpet was faded and the furniture very plain, for a good picture or two hung on the walls, books filled the recesses, chrysanthemums and Christmas roses bloomed in the windows, and a pleasant atmosphere of home peace pervaded it. ~Chapter 1, Louisa May Alcott
Our home is well-worn and threadbare, but there is beauty hiding beneath each afghan, dust jacket, and jar. This has always been important to my mother. She takes great pride in her “scapes” as we call them–or tiny arrangements of mementos and objects in a pleasing pattern–preferably in small alcoves where one might stumble upon them with a smile.
Just as in the March home, books invade every possible nook and cranny here. One time, as a young girl, I was in charge of entertaining a friend of the family’s son for an hour or two. He was in awe at the number of books we had in the house. I was alarmed. This poor child has no books?! I immediately sat down and commenced reading to him for the remainder of his visit. Later, the boy told his mother that we had read for an entire hour. She chuckled, saying, “We have the Bible of course, but reading is not a big deal in our house.” Mama graciously tried to conceal her sad eyes.
My mother instilled in me a respect for art at a young age. When I was six or seven, we were waiting in the checkout line at the library. There was a large statue of two men wrestling carved in a Greek or Roman style. I think every child had the urge to touch those smooth stone muscles or those wavy heads of marble hair. One didn’t see art like this every day in rural Ohio, after all. When I reached out and felt the cool statue, Mama exclaimed that I must never touch artwork, but only, “Look with your eyes.” She wasn’t mad, only embarrassed that the librarians might see and think that we hadn’t the proper respect for art. From that day forward, I would shake my head like a grandmother at any child I saw touching that statue. They didn’t know that it was ART and not there to be touched. Silly children.
I can’t count the times we stopped to look at wildflowers or a curious piece of architecture. We were always on constant alert for something interesting to point out to each other. When driving, we would do this by tapping on the window 3 or 4 times. Mom and Dad even use their wedding rings to add urgency to the cause of an especially pretty sight. “Click, click, click. Everyone look out my window.”
One day, we were riding along and Mama stopped the car abruptly and pulled over. In hushed tones she directed my attention to a nearby field where a cow was in labor. We both stared in amazement as a hoof stuck out of the cow’s body in slimy wonderfulness. Soon, as Mama was telling me how incredible it was that we could see this, a slightly annoyed farmer told us that the cow was delivering the calf backwards, and he needed to take her to the barn. We mumbled apologies about “the wonder of the thing” and “that we had just wanted to watch.” Then we quickly got back in the car, and drove off.
It’s interesting to think about the thousands of little moments that form a young mind’s opinion of the world. As a girl, I was a careful observer of my mother’s reactions. I paid special attention to how she behaved when she was happy, embarrassed, or tired. I found that my mother always acts according to a certain code. This set of rules is based on what will be the least invasive to whatever is lovely in a given situation. One must keep Grandma’s bowl because she made the yummy cookies with it, not because of any practical use it might have. One must smile at those around you because it will brighten their day. One must never touch a statue because, if everyone did so, it might wear away. Whenever I come home, Mama’s lovely set of rules brings that “pleasant atmosphere of home peace” to each comfy room.
Beauty is seen, but more importantly, it is treasured and appreciated.
* #Everyday Jesus * Thought Provoking Thursday * Thrive at Home Thursday * Grace at Home * * Say G’Day Saturday * Life Through the Lens * So Much At Home * Friendship Friday * Teaching What is Good *
What a beautiful post! This is a testimony to the beautiful women you each are. Elizabeth, you have instilled in your daughter a sense of wonder and appreciation. And Amy, you have seen the beauty of wonder and appreciation & grabbed hold of it. This morning you both are the beauty I have observed in and through this post. So glad you both shared! Blessings!
Hi Amy! It is so nice to meet you on this blog.
I love reading perspectives from different family members and seeing how those perspectives add to the big picture of this blog. Maybe we’ll see some content from the younger kids in the future? I might be fun to hear them describe a favorite book or favorite family activity.
I can certainly see why this would tug on your heart. It’s thrilling to see how important home is to your daughter. And I hope, to mine. Home is so much more than beautiful furniture and pristine carpets. ~Pamela
Amy we are near DC! Loved your post today. What a gracious tribute to the influence of your wonderful mom.
What can I say? Elizabeth, I pray to meet you and your family one day. I just love you so much. And love witnessing your family come together in this place. It’s a beautiful testimony of the bond of a family. What an amazing daughter you have. Thank you, Amy, for sharing here today. Just WOW!
This is a treasure! What a blessing to read this. Rising up and calling Mama blessed. What a great work you have done Elizabeth. Your efforts are rewarded. 🙂 How it makes me think to focus more on that “set of rules is based on what will be the least invasive to whatever is lovely in a given situation.”
I like this. Such a timely reminder for me to find His beauty where I am, in this season, in this trial. Beauty is everywhere we choose to look! Thank you for sharing this!
I could get lost for hours in a library. What a beautiful post about family and the times spent together. Something to be cherished forever and passed on from generation to generation. I pray more families will continue to do this. I grew up this way too. What a blessing.
Beautiful! And also, yay Ohio (I grew up in Ohio, mostly in Cincinnati but with a few years in the rural north.)
Thanks for reminding me through your post that God has beauty for us in our everyday lives. What a well written, beautiful post. Thanks for the encouragement today. Blessings! Visiting from Considering Grace, through Everyday Jesus!
Oh Amy! I so relate, girl! I am currently spending some time at my parents house in South East Kansas (been here for the last couple of weeks) and I see many of the similar things you do… So comforting and encouraging!
And Elizabeth– I have missed you the last couple of weeks during my vacay. Glad to be back at it– much love to you, sista.
PS: Fun fact… Our cow “BlackJack” had her first baby yesterday… It’s a little heifer. So I totally “get” your post connection! Miracles in the mundane.
Pingback: How Fun! Vol. 33 | Beauty Observed
Oh what a sweet post. I was so sad to read the cow part! My home is filled with books also!
Thanks for sharing this sweet post.
Oh my. I have tears in my eyes so please forgive any typos in this comment! This is beyond beautiful. I hope and pray I am remembered as fondly by my daughters. And as one who is taking care of two granddaughters, I have a renewed sense of responsibility. Thanks you for sharing such wonderful memories.
What a beautiful post! Your home sounds like the kind of place I’d love to sit and visit and share a cup of coffee. So glad I got to visit via the internet from Lisa’s link up.
Oh man, this is a beautiful, sentimental piece. One to treasure for sure. So glad you linked it up this made me heart happy to read.
Pingback: How Fun! Vol 34 | Beauty Observed
Pingback: How Fun! Vol. 35 | Beauty Observed