When we moved to OR 20 years ago, some dear neighbors up the street became good friends and we spent a great deal of time with them. They taught us a game called Mah Jong which I never really got the hang of but we had fun anyway. They had property across the street from our house on which they had planned to build a home on someday but they changed their minds, sold the property and moved to eastern OR. My in-laws bought that property and built their own home on it (that's another story!) Anyway, we have kept in touch with these neighbors all these years. Before they moved, they gave us quite a few books and magazines that they no longer needed. One of these books was Shakespeare: 23 plays and the Sonnets.
This book has been kept in a prominent place for 20 years, being referred to when needed (Shakespeare comes up more often than one would imagine). I had always hoped at least one of my kids would want to read it someday but I never pushed. And then one day, four months ago, Chad announced he was going to read it. It took him four months to finish (as he said, "Shakespeare is not easy reading") but I was so proud of him for never giving up. I think he was proud of himself as well. The great thing about Chad is that whatever he is reading, I get to "read" it, too. I got to learn all about the plays as he was reading them. I did the same thing for him when I was reading "War and Peace". It's fun to have someone to share with when one is reading a great peace of work. We discussed each play, Chad giving his opinion for each one. Learning the background was interesting as well. We both got a terrific education on Shakespeare, simply because he wanted to read it. And that is exactly what I had hoped would happen. I could have made it an assignment but I chose not to and I think he learned more because it was his idea. I wish I could do all our learning that way.
It was interesting to see just how many phrases have passed into modern life that have their origins in Shakespeare. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that. We also enjoyed reading Verla's notes (our neighbor that gave us the book). I think this was college reading for her, probably dating back into the late 1950's and her sense of humor shows through in her comments. She was a teacher for many years and I think she would love to know that Chad enjoyed this book. That's a letter I need to write, and soon.
We have other books Verla gave us that turned out to be very important to our children. She will enjoy knowing what an influence these books have had on our lives. I've never thought to mention this to her in our yearly letters to each other. But this year, I definitely will.