Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That love that shan't speak its name

Fueled by kgirl's fetish admission in yesterday's comments, today I make an announcement.

A confession, if you will.

I loved, and still do love,

Little House on the Prairie


Okay, Little House on the Prairie. There, I've said it.

I loved the books as a child, receiving the box set the summer between kindergarten and grade one. By September I had finished the series. I re-read it over and over again, until the spines were cracked and the covers bent and faded.


But what I really loved was the TV series.




I was a child of a (very) broken home. By the time I was old enough to watch the series, both of my mother and father were gone, having abandoned their responsibilities as parents. I was left with The Nana. My childhood was not filled with the delights of most children my age - ET, The Muppets, etc. However, I was allowed to watch Little House on the Prairie.

I watched the show faithfully, seeing every episode several times over in re-runs (to this day Mr Babbler teases me that I can figure out which episode, down to the season, that we are watching within the span of a single scene). I hummed along to the opening and closing credits. I seethed with righteous indignation at the evil doings of Nellie Olsen and her busybody mother Harriet. I sang along to Bringing in the Sheaves and Go Tell it on the Mountain with the good Reverend Alden. I wanted to sit in a one-room schoolhouse with a tablet and a shared bench, being taught by Miss Beadle. I wanted to wear a calico dress with with a pinafore and black button boots, running to the Merchantile for a piece of penny candy. But most of all, I wanted to be a part of their family.


I coveted the Ingalls family. Pa Ingalls, he of the wavy, feathered hair and chiseled cheekbones, was my ideal father, a strong but caring man, a man who simply adored his wife and faced any and all danger to keep his family safe. He was stern, yet loving. He was kind, compassionate, a good leader and had a sense of humour to boot. Truly, a perfect man in all ways. A tad unrealistic perhaps, but to my adoring, childish eyes, a man to idealize as a father.



And Ma, pretty, sweet, kind Ma of the soft voice and will of steel. I wanted to run and hide in her aprons or help her with chores. I wanted her to dispense her womanly wisdom to me. In short, I had the biggest crush on Ma Ingalls and did my best to emulate her quiet, thoughtful manner. That isn't to say I was successful, but oh, did I try. (As an aside, in hunting for photos for this post I stumbled across this photo of Karen Grassle (Ma Ingalls) - wasn't she a hottie? Whee!)



I learned about morals and love and community and the power of family with each episode. (Oh, and I learned about a few other things along the way, like rape and death and oh, perhaps my Nana should have been monitoring my viewing a bit more closely.) In the later episodes I learned about love, eagerly awaiting the big kiss, and eventual marriage between Laura and Almanzo (although, to be clear, I did not have a crush on Almanzo. That was reserved for Gilbert. Sweet, sweet Gilbert Blythe. But Laura and Almanzo were a close second.)



I'm an adult now, and fully understand that the family life portrayed in Little House on the Prairie was idealized - a fictionalized, perfect version of family in which all hurts could be done away with a simple apology, a hug from Ma and some fiddle music from Pa. I think that perhaps I even understood that as a child, jaded as I was.

But still, the magic remains. I've recently started recording the daily re-runs of Little House on the Prairie, watching them while Peanut is down for her nap. I know that as Peanut gets older I will share my old copies of the books with her, and then sit down and watch the show with her, hopefully passing along a little of my love for the series.

And this Christmas, I'll also be pulling out these DVDs:



And awaiting the final scene. That sweet ending, and this long-awaited kiss (be still my heart):




"I don't want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you."

26 comments:

flutter said...

is it wrong that this made me love you even more?

is it?

kittenpie said...

Well, who didn't have a crush on Gilbert? He wasn't even my type, but he was still cuuuuuute!

But I must admit, I am totally out of the loop on the Little House. Didn't make it through one book, and grew up with no TV, so I am talking SERIOUSLY out of it on that count. Sorry I just can't share in that one...

JCK said...

I read every book cover to cover. I wanted to be Melissa Gilbert. And I had a ridiculous, HUGE crush on Michael Landon. HUGE. Little House was the first show that allowed me to get my cry in once a week. My brothers would start teasing me as each fat tear rolled down my face and I would SHUSH them so I wouldn't miss a moment of the show. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

nomotherearth said...

Oh Gilbert, how I loved you! It broke my heart when I found out that he plays for the other team...

Sober Briquette said...

Little House was on Monday nights. My dance class was on Monday night. I still can't dance.

bubandpie said...

I teach The Long Winter on my Children's Literature course, mainly because I was so startled when I read it at my sense (not encouraged by the narrative at all) that Pa is really a negligent father - someone constantly moving the family west for no good reason other than his own wanderlust into life-threatening situations that ultimately compromised Laura's health and growth. (She didn't need become so small just by accident.)

I loved that show too - especially the episode called "Sweet Sixteen."

Suz said...

My husband loved Mr. Rogers for the same reason. He gave my husband a little of what he lacked in his own family.

b*babbler said...

flutter - aw, thanks! I think that is the definition of being loved in spite of of your weaknesses :)

nomo - Really? Seriously? Sigh. There's no reason he has to abandon my fantasies though.

bub - You have a really good point. I think it is in The Long Winter (or perhaps it is Little Town on the Prairie) that Laura notes that Grace never fully recovers from the hardship of The Long Winter, and apparently she never did enjoy very good health after that. It's definitely an interesting take on Pa though - it's as though he was a good father in every way except this one crucial aspect.

Suzanne said...

I love the books, and the TV show. The strict literalist in me disliked the liberties taken with the storyline of the books (Hello, Albert?), but it's still a heart-warming show.

caramama said...

I've seen a few episodes, but never really got into the show. But I'm now intrigued and think I'll read the books. (Maybe I'll sneak the first one on my alternative list for the To Be Read Challenge.)

However, EVERYONE tells me I look like Laura (i.e., Melissa Gilbert). I've been all over the country and around Europe, and strangers will come up to me and say I look just like that girl from Little House on the Prairie. It's a bit disconcerting, but at least I think she's pretty so it's not a bad thing to hear.

And now you all know what I look like! ;-)

slouching mom said...

i am so very, very with you.

that show, and the brady bunch, acted as my model for a "normal" childhood.

kgirl said...

glad i'm not the only one outed.

i HAVE the little house DVDs - all of them! (and obviously, the books) I'm sure I've seen every episode 20 times. What's your favourite?

Did you watch pioneer quest, the reality tv show about 'a year in the real west' that the history channel now airs over and over again? I SO want to be on it, though Chris laughs his ass off. I guess I do want the pioneer romance, but not necessarily all of the hard work. Still, it would be so much fun!

Denguy said...

Oh yes, I had a big-time crush on Megan Follows.

Kelly Malloy said...

I loved that show! I used to love watching Laura running down that hill and wishing I was her!

Kellan said...

I also love Little House on the Prairie and I also loved the Waltons! I still love to see them when I run across them on TV. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Take care. Kellan

Don Mills Diva said...

Aww - this was probably the most touching post about a tv show I have ever read. I loved that show too - I loved Nellie's husband - that little guy really kept her in line.

mamatulip said...

Gilbert Blythe. Oh, he was dreamy. I love, love, LOVE that series, the Anne of Green Gables. Can't say the same about Little House, sorry, but Anne Shirley is a girl I grew up with, both on the screen and in print.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh me too. To both. :)

I have the entire Anne series on video. :)

Julie
Using My Words

Lisa b said...

All I remember from my childhood is little house on the prairie. Except now the scary stuff keeps coming back to me. Why oh why were we allowed to watch that?
It was on ALL the time.
They were some of the first books I read and had that feeling something was not right as I look back on the stories as an adult. Glad Dr Bub and Pie set me straight.
I saw your reading challenge but was afraid to step up.

painted maypole said...

i loved the books, but the TV shows were just OK. Blog Antagonist just wrote a post about the Little House Christmas Special

;)

Aliki2006 said...

Well, I LOVED it and still love it. In fact, when L. was a tiny baby and wouldn't sleep, I used to log some major hours in the rocking chair holding him in my arms and watching Little House reruns.

Karen MEG said...

Oh, I loved this post! I was a huge Little House fan, and the Anne series too. That shot of Gilbert and Anne on the bridge, what a perfect ending for that series. Love that line... I'm getting all weepy!

Jennifer said...

I absolutely love both the books and the television show!!!! I was so happy to see the picture of "Ma" in her ERA t-shirt as well. I would love to own each season on DVD so that I can watch them all over again with my girls. As it is, I love days off where I can watch reruns on the Hallmark channel. My parents also took a vacation that went through Missouri so that my mother could go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museums, etc. I was jealous that I was married and living away from home by then.

ewe are here said...

I adored the Anne of Green Gables series. Adored.

Ahhh, Gilbert.

:-)

Happy New Year.

L.P. said...

i too am a huge fan of little house and am the proud owner of the boxed sets of seasons one and two.
i watch them and i always cry. idealsitic as it may be, there is something right about how they treat one another.

peter33 said...

your right, caroline ignalls was quite hot! is she wearing no bra in that photo? i think you can see the outline of a nipple, lol! ah, the 70's. i almost feel ashamed to say this stuff because, shes MA from little house! but im not gonna lie, she was fiine, my kinda woman! loved her hair. feel kinda sad she got so old these days! :(

 

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