A Small lesson in gratitude found in children’s book
May 8, 2009 · 12:29 PM
His name is Wong Herbert Yee and his book, “Fireman Small,” was almost forgotten at our house until a few days ago.
Our memory of this treasured book came after we spent an hour gazing at ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” It was late and we knew we had to get ourselves in bed if we intended to get up with good humor. But we were a chatty bunch. We played with our Chihuahuas and dilly-dallied even further.
“Any funny people stories to tell me?” I asked my son and daughter. I can always count on a chuckle or two and they were right on the money. I heard about school hallway shenanigans, who is dating whom, and that great new CD just released by the Canadian rock band “Nickelback.” Next came the nightly consumption of cereal. Our topics covered the gamut; not a terribly intellectual range, but the kind that makes being a mom extremely entertaining.
I looked at the clock. We had to get in bed. Then came the memory. Why and where it came from is a delightful mystery, but it came in the form of a question: “Mom, do you remember Fireman Small?”
Of course I remember Fireman Small! He is the focus of a book I read at bedtime in the early ‘90s to settle my three little Klopes down. Must have read that book a thousand times. Small is aptly named because he is height challenged but extremely good at fire rescue. He cares about each emergency situation he responds to and at the end of the book is honored by those he serves.
While we all appreciate the message of tireless public service, it is also the charming ordinariness of what Fireman Small does after each call that we remember as a family, word for word:
He pulls back into station number nine,
Walks upstairs one step at a time.
Closes the curtains, gets in bed
And pulls the covers over his head.
It’s the magic of children’s books, especially Yee’s books, that remains with us. And it’s what “Dancing with the Stars” cannot do. Carefully penned words have the power to write themselves onto the hearts of readers. They are to be enjoyed at various times throughout our lives when life is been busy and we need a way to relax, wind down, and view life in simple and dignified ways as we go to sleep.
The next morning I made it my mission to find Wong Herbert Yee and share my gratitude. If someone cares enough to share a part of themselves with me, I’m determined to let them know how their talents are playing out in my life.
I Googled and in one click found Mr. Yee. I read a charming autobiographical sketch and liked him even more. I also learned about the other books he’s written in recent years and how he enjoys spending time riding his bike and speaking in schools to early elementary-aged children.
How wonderful is that? I clicked on the link to his e-mail and offered my small gift of gratitude. It felt awfully good to e-mail Mr. Yee.
The wonderful giftings God has given each one of us—so colorful, so varied—are to be celebrated. Take time to express your gratitude, especially tomorrow during Mother’s Day to your own mother or a woman who has mothered you in some way. You will make a difference in her life, perhaps at a time when encouragement is needed.
Then thank God for His artful ways, expressed in your life’s endeavors and those around you.