As a young girl in a neighborhood with few children my age, imagination was my playmate. In the afternoon, I would pull out the brown floor cushion and adjust myself in front of the tv. Ready for an adventure with the Ingalls family.
Laura was so relatable to the child that was me. Curious, tenacious, and a daydreamer. Plus, she often learned lessons the hard way. Just like me.
My mother would tame my hair into long braids, and I would put on my favorite prairie dress. Among my toys was a miniature cast iron stove, like Ma’s. A novelty pencil with a broom instead of an eraser, swept imaginary prairie kitchens. I built cabins along with Pa from Lego scenes, carefully crafted.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was my hero. Her books took me from a sleepy street into another world, where my prairie heart fit in best. Climbing high into the treehouse, I lay dreamily staring into the blue sky among swaying carob branches. Adventures were an ordinary occurrence in this growing girl’s mind.
Yet, as I grew into womanhood, fantasy shifted to more concrete values that stayed with me throughout my life. The Ingalls value system had become my own in many ways.
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues
My husband teases me still, in my 50’s how I will occasionally reference them, as though I knew them. And I did.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote lesser-known, but profound nonfiction books that were full of common sense. Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues, for example, is fruitful for all ages!
“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder
There are so many virtues imparted by the show and book series that have reminded me of many wonderful life lessons. They are a combination of Biblical truths and Ingalls’s simplicity.
- Faith is the most important thing. Reverence for the Lord matters
- Common sense and logic guide with surety
- Your reputation and word need to stand for commitment
- Respect your elders
- Remember the people who came before you, heritage is our foundation
- Complaints aren’t welcome or useful
Work willing at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people- Colossians 3:23
- Make your own fun with what you have
- Don’t compare your life with others
- Discipline builds character
- Be content with a simple life
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands… 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
- Family is a gift, each person a valuable asset
- Caring about neighbors is part of community, invest with kindness
- Don’t stop learning, it improves your options
- Hard work is a good thing
- Being a lady is respect for yourself, not a construct
- Look for the good and you’ll find it, look for offense, and you’ll find that too
- Respect other’s values as well, be a good listener
- Money doesn’t make you better, special, or more important. Character does
As women, we can feel confident in staying true to our love for home and family. And most importantly, the guidance from our faith.
Recently, I had a unique opportunity to visit my childhood home. The owner asked if that was my treehouse out back. Still standing! It brought back all the memories, rushing like a waterfall over me. The imagination station, nestled into the branches. That my own “pa” worked hard to build his little girl.
My own parents exemplified so many of these traits that were instilled in me too. In our little house in the city, a hundred years later.
Our days are made up of a million little moments that create a life. Not just the big events. There is joy to be found in the mundane and ordinary when we pause to look.
“And just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, like the golden gleam of sunlight runs through and brightens all the fabric of civilization” -Laura Ingalls Wilder