Daughters of Promise November/December 2014 - Page 61

however. In Gilman’s book, it is a small blanket; for Polacco, it is a fine and expensive tea set. The child in each story draws a sense of security from the use of the treasured item in the rhythms of daily life. Joseph loves his blanket and brings it to his grandfather, its maker, to find new uses for it as it becomes more and more worn. Anna’s family uses the tea set, her parent’s wedding gift, as Shabbot begins. The treasures are placeholders, so to speak; representations of other securities in the children’s lives. Over time, however, the treasured items are lost or altered. Joseph’s blanket becomes so small that his grandfather finally uses it to cover a button for Joseph. And one day, even the button is lost. Anna’s family is subject to the Russian pogroms and has to flee with what they can carry. Eventually, they leave most of the tea set as a gift for the kind Gentile doctor who arranges their passage to America. So what makes a treasured item and why is it highly valued (apart from monetary worth)? It seems to me that, first, treasures are items of quality. Interestingly, we are richer and more materialistic than in times past. At the same time, we have easy access to mounds of mass produced goods that are not designed to last long. The result is a likelihood to possess a lot, but in a proliferation of low- to midgrade quality. This stands in contrast to the families of Polacco’s and Gilman’s books, who have little but still own an item or two of beauty and quality. If a treasured item is one of quality, it will then be expensive. It will cost something. This is not the lampshade project that you hot glued together one afternoon and discovered that the blogger was right: it did take only twenty minutes! It did cost basically nothing! No, treasured items require patience, time, and care. If you are the maker of it, you’ll reckon with that cost. If you are the buyer of it, you’ll reckon with the cost its creation required of someone else. After the hurdle of ownership, treasures wend their way, in some form or other, into use. This was the portion in the children’s books that took me by surprise. I thought about how differently Joseph and Anna would have felt toward the treasures if the items had been off limits. A blanket is one thing, but the wedding tea set quite another. I imagined my tendency, if I were the mother in the story, to keep that rich and rare gift under wraps---literally. Wrap it in blankets and keep it shrouded in a storage chest. Never fully enjoy it because I so feared losing it and never let my children enjoy it