Today is Louisa May Alcott’s birthday and I say we should celebrate with a tea party!
Ever since I saw that it was Louisa’s birthday, I’ve been thinking of Little Women and how much that book has meant to me over the years. Little Women is the first book (other than picture books) that I remember reading. My grandmother, who had loved all the Alcott books as a girl, introduced it to me. I remember the two of us drinking tea and chatting about our favorite characters or things that we loved about different parts of the book. It was one of the many things that brought us together and if for no other reason than that, Little Women would have an incredibly special place in my heart.
This memory of having tea with Nanny and talking about Little Women was the inspiration behind my book and tea charm necklaces. I have branched out to other books and poems and plays but at its heart, this series is all about those moments. It is really no exaggeration to say that there wouldn’t have been a Ciarrai Studios or my work would have entirely different without this really formative experience.
But I also love the book on its own merits. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy were my friends growing up. I know so many women who identified with Jo and because I was tall, awkward, book-loving kid who liked to write poems and stories, a lot of people thought of me as “a Jo” but I always really loved Beth and identified with Meg. Jo and I shared a love of books, writing, and drama but I was a really not a tomboy growing up. (To put it in Little Men terms, I was much more of a Daisy than a Nan) Still, I like to think that I would have gotten along well with Meg, especially since we were both the oldest of four girls and I think we would have understood each other rather well.
I was also fascinated by Alcott herself. Around 2nd grade, I went on a famous women in American history kick and read biography after biography about ladies like Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart and, of course, Louisa May Alcott. More than “just” a writer, Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist and worked alongside Clara Barton as a nurse during the Civil War. It all made such an impression on me as a kid and I firmly believe that if we want little girls to grow up to be strong, independent women that we need to introduce them to women like Louisa May Alcott.
And so, I would like to say Thank you Louisa for creating some of my best childhood friends. Thank you for being a role model to me. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for bringing my grandmother and I together, creating memories I have treasured my entire life. Thank you.
Happy Birthday Louisa.