A Few Memories and a Childhood Treasure

by | Aug 28, 2013 | Books, Happy Birthday | 8 comments

“If you dear little girls would only learn what real beauty is, and not pinch and starve and bleach yourselves out so, you’d save an immense deal of time and money and pain. A happy soul in a healthy body makes the best sort of beauty for man or woman.” ― Louisa May Alcott, Eight Cousins
My absolute favorite thing to do as a child was read.  As the oldest of twelve children life was always busy, but I’d often sneak away and hide under my bed or in the closet with a flashlight and a book.  At one point I even remember intentionally trying to make my mom mad (soooo naughty of me!) so she would send me to my room just so I could spend more time reading.  This quickly ended one afternoon when I said something that resulted in a “Go to your room!” from my mom who then told my sister Jennifer to take over the dishes I was washing.  Jenny responded “That’s not fair! She wants you to send her to her room so she can read!” From then on my “punishments” were changed to additional chores, usually mopping the wood floors…
Earlier today I took a break from chores and lesson planning and was looking through some of my old treasures – favorite books from my childhood – trying to choose a few to share with our oldest daughter this coming school year.   Now that she is turning 10 this week I thought she might enjoy one of my old favorites, Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.  It had been tucked away in my closet for safe keeping and I was so excited when I opened it and recalled that it had been given to me, by my Grandmother, 25 years ago on my 10th birthday, and had originally been given to my Grandma Jo Ann by her Aunt Viv on Christmas in 1940! 

I think I have shared a little about my Grandma (my Dad’s mom) in the past, but I can’t seem to find the post… She passed away just two years later (in May of 1990, at the age of 61), within two months of being diagnosed with cancer (right after Easter that year), which was also right after being sentenced (on Good Friday by a “Catholic” judge) to three months in jail for sitting and praying the rosary in front of an abortion clinic with Operation Rescue.  God had other plans for her… I loved her so much!  How I miss her and wish she could meet her great-grandchildren. Last week, when I was watching the kids play Mass, I asked God to please let her have a little peek through the clouds – I could just picture her smiling! 

Anyways, my copy of Eight Cousins is starting to fall apart, but I did order a new copy to give to our oldest daughter on Friday.   I love that the Penguin Classics Paperback version shows Rose ice skating on the cover!  It will tie in nicely to the “Caroline” themed birthday we are planning.  🙂


  1. Chris

    Jessica~ I so enjoyed this post! I love your pics and your commentary…I, too, have the set of LM Alcott books from my childhood…my sister's best friend ( who is now MY friend too!) gave the set to me for Christmas when I was 8. ( My sister and I are 20 years apart….)
    I still have the set and have read a few of the books to my kids as well. When my fam was in MA a few years ago, we visited LM Alcott's home and it was wonderful!
    Thanks so much for sharing…lovely memories!

  2. Lucy Casey

    Jessica – I love reading your blog and well this post just made me laugh. What an amazing childhood you must have had and now I have a new book that I must read. I don't know how I ever missed that one growing up. I too spent my childhood pouring over books.

  3. Gae

    Dear Jessica,
    Me too it is one of my favourites
    I also love Under the Lilacs and Jack and Jill
    Love the story of your Grandmother

  4. Kimberlee

    Oh, what a lovely treasure! We enjoyed Eight Cousins as a read aloud last year – so delightful! Old books are the very best, and old books with so much of your very own family history are the bestest best! Thank you for sharing your beautiful family memories and a bit of your beautiful grandmother. You have a blessed heritage, indeed!

  5. Eliana

    I absolutely loved Eight Cousins as a child and it is still on of my favorite books. I really love the sequel as well, Rose in Bloom (it does deal with the possibility of first cousin marriage, which is not allowed by ecclesiastical law, except with a dispensation http://catholicexchange.com/can-cousins-marry-in-the-church/). Another sweet book by Alcott is An Old-Fashioned Girl, in addition to Little Women and its sequels, which goes without saying!

  6. Momma Holmes

    I, too, loved this book, this series. I have read and reread my mother's copies. I will now have to ask her if they were her mother's copies because they are yellowed with age.

  7. Anonymous

    You made me cry! I miss my grandma too. I have never read Eight Cousins, maybe it is time.

  8. Maureen

    Now I know what I am going to give my ten year old neice for Christmas.


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