Just after the holidays I put away the decorations and began tidying up around the house. Soon I was deep cleaning all of the bookcases. It’s not the most exciting job, but I do enjoy “visiting” my books and keepsakes. This time around the book that caught my attention was BEAUTIFUL GEMS OF THOUGHT AND SENTIMENT. This version has a 1901 copyright and was printed by C.W. Stanton Company, Chicago. I believe it was edited by Henry Davenport Northrop since he’s credited with editing the 1890 version with the same title. This is mostly a poetry anthology broken into sections like THE CHARMS OF NATURE, DESCRIPTIONS AND TALES OF THE SEA, ALBUM OF LOVE, THE SWORD AND THE PLOW. I love it for the poetry and for the way it freezes time and invites a look backward.
This time, though, when I opened the pages I noticed something new. Here tucked inside was a message from the book’s original owner:
Presented To: Leta ElCrepps
Xmas, Dec, 25, 1901
sent a small tingle up my arms and to my heart. In 1901 sweet Leta gave herself a Christmas present. I haven’t been able to find out any information on Leta ElCrepps, nor am I even certain that’s the correct spelling of her name. But what a gift! This book is over 500 pages, with silver and gold pressed into the cover. I imagine in 1901 a book like this would have been a splurge. Why would Leta have done that for herself? Was she a poet? A student? A romantic? I may never know, but what I believe is that Leta cared for herself enough to give herself a marvelous Christmas present.
And now 115 years later Leta’s note and present to herself are a gift to me – my first 2016 epiphany: Remember to treat yourself. It’s a practice that I’d like to adopt in 2016.
Presented to: Tamera Wissinger
New Year, January 14, 2016
…that has a nice ring.
Wishing you a blessed and gift-filled New Year. (And hello from the past if you are a poet reading this 115 years from now in 2131. Go buy yourself a present; Leta and Tamera said it's okay.)
Tamera Wissinger writes stories and poetry for children including Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse, This Old Band, and There Was An Old Lady Who Gobbled a Skink (out next month!) and Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse (arriving next year!) You can connect with Tamera online at her website, on Twitter, or on Facebook.