Thursday, February 28, 2013

Read Across America Day!

Saint David (Dewi Sant) is the Patron Saint of Wales. March first begins a celebration that lasts through the weekend in that misty, musical land. On Saint David's Day, Welsh people will don traditional costumes, carry bouquets of leeks and daffodils, and congregate for celebrations of poetry and song called eisteddfodau. The Welsh everywhere will honor Dewi Sant with poetry and song, even in Los Angeles, California, near the barrio where Saint  Sullivan's Daughter takes place. If you see anyone wearing a daffodil or leek on their lapel today, chances are they're Welsh, no matter where in the world they're wandering.

We proudly call our American culture a melting pot. One theme of Saint Sullivan's Daughter is how this cultural melange is a positive and negative aspect of growing up in a melting pot. Positive, because we have so much to celebrate -- and negative because we come to mistrust our own cultures of origin while trying to assimilate. A mixed-ethnic American can feel rootless. We are wise to create new, common American traditions, like Read Across America Day, which is today, March first, this year!

I began celebrating Read Across America Day this week by reading to a group at Springwater Presbyterian Church way out in Estacada, Oregon.  Women had gathered to knit together, and greeted me enthusiatically, showing me their lovely projects. I read passages from Saint Sullivan's Daughter and even sold a book to lovely Wilma. I hadn't planned it as a selling day, so that was a perk. Celebrate Read Across America with me by buying a book at an independent bookstore, rather than a big corporate bookseller, and read it to yourself or a child. You might even give a friend a book today.

A personal holiday I'll be celebrating is our thirty-eighth anniversary. James Nail and I were married, in America, on March first, nineteen hundred and seventy-five. A very good reason to wear a daffodil, but not a leek. I prefer leeks in soup. 

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