To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
Today is the beginning of a new season.
I don’t like new seasons. I don’t like change. I like sameness. But today marks the beginning of a new season.
Over the weekend, I began pulling books off my shelves. These aren’t just any books. These are the books that I have used to homeschool my sons and several other children. It was time to purge, to clean up things. Besides, I could use the extra cash and I really no longer have a need for these books.
Several books were sold online just as soon as I listed them. The math and science texts sold very quickly, without even having to negotiate the prices I had asked. I had no trouble at all saying good bye to these books. I have never enjoyed math or science and as often as was possible, I tasked someone else with the chore of teaching those subjects to my sons. In return I taught other children history, government, literature, grammar, and economics (there really is quite a difference between economics and math, but that is for another day). The math and science books have all been shipped or will be delivered soon and there are now fewer things for me to dust!
Then I came to the history materials. Dozens of textbooks, resources, picture books, maps, timelines, and biographies cover plenty of shelf space. My hands began to shake and my heart began to cry.
How can I part with a book written for elementary school students about World War I that was published just a few years after the war ended? The author saw the perils of this war first hand and, although the narrative is tempered for young audiences, the truth is still there for them to read. I can’t sell this book! It is no longer in print!
Selling history books is going to be my nemesis. One of the books on my shelf concerning the westward expansion and railroads was purchased at the bookstore in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Nevada, at the Golden Spike Railroad Museum. My family was there on a field trip the year we learned about this historical era. We saw the exact location where the golden spike was driven (it hangs in a museum now) surrounded by two massive train engines. How can I sell the book I bought while we were there?
I also have books that we purchased in Massachusetts when we studied the colonial period. I have one from Dayton, Ohio that I purchased at the museum where Wilbur and Orville Wright actually developed their first airplane. I have one that I bought in Vicksburg, Mississippi about the siege during the Civil War that I picked up during our field trip there. I have several from St. Louis about the Mississippi River and the significance of the Gateway Arch that I bought when we visited there.
These books represent much more than the history of our nation. They represent the history of my family. We know the wingspan of the Wright Flyer not from a book, but because we were in the room where it was built. We know how huge the Gateway Arch is, not from a book, but because we have been to the very top of it. These field trips help to make up who we are. How can I sell that?
In truth, I can’t. Where tourists purchase souvenirs like t-shirts or commemorative books, I have purchased books that teach. But in the end, they are books. This morning, I parted with several of the books that I used when we studied the Westward Expansion. I handed the books to another homeschooling mama and she handed me some cash. I could barely offer my thanks for the sale. For the next hour I felt as if I had sold a bodily organ.
After catching my breath, I finally realized, I’m not selling my family’s history. I’ve not sold out who we are. I’ve just made it easier for other mamas to develop their own family history. Someday other moms will be able to teach their children the historical significance of the Mississippi River, the siege at Vicksburg, the transcontinental railroad, the whaling industry in Massachusetts, the impact of the airplane on our culture, and more because they used the same books that I did to teach those things to my sons.
My family will always recall our visits to so many historical sites, whether or not I have the books purchased on the trips collecting dust on a shelf. I really hope that other moms will create similar memories with their families, too. For now, it is my season to dance.