Thursday, March 20, 2014

Birthdays and Books

When I was a kid - and I'm talking about 30 years ago now - my godmother would sometimes take me out for my birthday, and my favorite excursions were when we'd go to Barnes and Noble. 

It was always an event. We'd take the subway into Manhattan, an experience in itself. I'm wondering now if the store we went to was a flagship store because, at least in my eyes, it was huge. My godmother and I would find the young adult section - or whatever it was called, back in the day - and she would leave me to it. She'd go off and look for books for herself, checking on me occasionally, while I happily chose and stacked books for possible purchase. Not once do I ever remember her telling me I couldn't get a book because it was "inappropriate" for me.

Laden with shopping bags, we'd go to dinner, usually for Chinese food but one time we went to a French restaurant where I had french onion soup for the first time - yum!

On the train home, my godmother would open one of her books and read, while I scanned the car making sure no one was about to try and steal the shopping bag of books at my feet. (Hmm, maybe some of that paranoia came from books that weren't so appropriate for me after all….)

Now, these many years later, I'm the one who buys books for my godmother. I wrap and pack them up - usually with some chocolate! - and send them up north where she lives in assisted living. Next month, I'll start listing books to pick up for my nephew's birthday. And in the Fall, I'll do the same for my niece. And I hope one day, my nephew and niece will remember those gifts of books, of reading, of stories the way I remember mine - with a smile. 

Do you have any birthday memories that make you smile? Are you the person in your family or circle of friends who buys everyone books? Do you appreciate the person who does?

16 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's nice you can return the gesture now. Neither of my nephews are big readers, but I've sent books to one of them on several occasions.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

My nephew used to stop opening his other presents so he could read the books. He doesn't do that so much anymore but I still love that he used to. :)

Elsie Amata said...

I smiled at my own memories of riding into the the Big Apple on the train. When I was younger, I thought the same thing, "surely someone is going to try and steal my stuff!" It never happened. The LIRR has a bit of a bad rap. I'm glad to see you're passing along reading to your niece and nephew. That's wonderful.

Elsie
AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I hope they always love reading, whether it's physical books or ebooks or whatever it is people are reading when they're as old as me. :)

It makes me laugh now when I think how worried I was that someone was going to steal my books. Not money, not jewelry. I guess if I was going to be a thief, books would be my loot of choice. :)

Donna Volkenannt said...

What an uplifting post! I could visualize you guarding the books at your feet. How special your godmother was in your life and you in hers, and it's wonderful that you're continuing the family tradition with your niece and nephew.

Christmas and holidays I'm the one who gives books to the young ones. When I was a children and YA book reviewer I'd give age-appropriate books to my grandchildren or pass along other books to young family members--and children of friends.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have spent so many hours in bookstores with my children. I don't have any wonderful memories from childhood like you do but I hope I've given my children some.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thank you, Donna!

I give books or gift cards for books/ebooks to my godmother and to pretty much everyone I exchange gifts. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm sure your kids do - and will! - have great memories of being with you in those bookstores.

Julie Flanders said...

What a wonderful memory to have. And it's great that you are able to reciprocate the gift of books to your godmother now. So many of my favorite childhood memories involve books and reading. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I read some of my all-time favorite books when I was a kid/teen - THE STAND, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES books, THE LITTLE HOUSE books, the BETSY-TACY books…. Re-reading them is like visiting old friends, taking a walk down memory lane.... :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wonderful! I read some great books as a kid and teen. Birthday books are sweet, and what a great memory to share! I gave my three nieces and one nephew books for Christmas and their birthdays . . l only my nephew resisted becoming a reader, but someday, I'll find the book that pulls him over to the dark side . . .er, I mean, the light side. :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

My grandmother always had me a new deck of cards for me. Usually with a kitten on them. It was a little thing, but I loved it.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm sure it's only a matter of time.... :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

So often it's those little things that make the best memories.

Suzi said...

What terrific memories. It's cool that she did that for you. Helped inspired a love for reading/writing.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Reading was always encouraged...as long as I still went outside and played occasionally. :)