[Kindly ignore the mis-punctuation; it’s the sentiment to which I subscribe.]
You can call her a one-hit literary wonder as if it’s a critique, but let’s face it: when To Kill a Mockingbird is your one “hit,” one is puh.len.tee.
Nelle Harrper Lee, who celebrated 88 years of AWESOME yesterday, never wrote another novel, but she’s done some pretty cool stuff since TKAM was published 54 years ago.
In 1966, upon learning Virginia’s Hanover County School Board voted to remove her “immoral” book from all of its library shelves, Lee penned a particularly passionate letter to board members. In the missive, she questions the board members’ literacy, compares them to Orwellian dictators, and encloses “a small contribution … that I hope will be used to enroll the Board in any first grade of its choice.”
In 2006, Lee wrote an open letter for O magazine about her deep and abiding love for libraries and books: “Oprah, can you imaging curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up – some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.”
And, in 2007, Lee made a rare public appearance to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, alongside fellow recipients geneticist Francis Collins and former House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Henry Hyde.
Incidentally, Lee absolutely approved of Horton Foote’s 1962 Academy-Award-winning screenplay adaptation of TKAM, calling it “one of the best translations of a book to film ever made.” She also became a good friend of the Oscar-winning onscreen Atticus Finch, Gregory Peck, and remains close to his family; his grandson, Harper Peck Voll, is named for her.
I’m a big believer in the power of gratitude – of practicing gratitude my own self, and of sharing my gratitude with the people who evoke it, to lift them up with the knowledge and acknowledgement that what they were or did for me made a positive difference. It mattered.
Plus, expressing thanks is just good manners, y’all. Remember the essentials, please & thank you? Well, it seems to me that we’re currently living in a acquisition-centric culture where please is the order of the day and thank you is wrongly losing rank.
For example, when’s the last time you wrote an actual pen-to-paper thank-you note?
No, the pen and the paper aren’t really the point. But truly, isn’t a handwritten missive, arriving in your metal mailbox via a human postal-carrier’s hand, more meaningful than its e-quivalent?
Yes. Yes, it is.
So, just in case you may be a tad rusty, here’s all you need to create a perfect thank-you note:
:: a small sheet of paper or notecard
:: a fitting envelope
:: a first-class stamp
:: a writing implement
:: someone to be thankful to for something, and his|her mailing address
:: A greeting – Something like Dear Wendy, works perfectly.
:: Sentence 1 – A statement of thanks for whatever it is your grateful for, simple and straightforward. Thank you very much for the generous gift card you sent me for my birthday.
:: Sentence 2 – Say something about the item, deed, what have you, that you especially appreciate. Amazon.com is my favorite spot to shop, so the gift card will definitely be put to good use – maybe on several online occasions!
:: Sentence 3 – Say something about the person that you especially appreciate. You’re such a kind and thoughtful gift-giver; having someone like you remember and celebrate my birthday each year really makes me feel like someone special.
:: Sentence 4 – Reiterate your thanks and add another personal note, if possible. Thanks again so much – I hope we can catch up in person over the summer … over margaritas??
:: A closing – Something like All the best, Kristen works perfectly.
Into the envelope, seal, stamp, address, mail. Done and done.
And well done! You just added a dose of humanity and a slice of joy to the world.
Because gratitude begets joy. Put four sentences together today and make someone happy.
[Regarding the image at the top: In 2010, Canadian author Yann Martel received a thoughtful thank-you note in response to his award-winning novel, Life of Pi, from father of two and free-world leader Barack Obama. This particular note doesn’t follow my four-sentence formula, but is a fine example of a beautifully and elegantly written thank-you nonetheless.]
Yea, verily – ’tis the 450th celebration of The Bard’s birth!
Which means ’tis time to spake like Shake! Wanteth to brush up your couplets [ok, that sounds a little dirty]? Mayhaps this guide [courtesy of talklikeshakespeare.org] will helpeth ye!
Or, in sooth, this song of hip and hop from the brothers q penned for “MC Shakes”:
Happy happy 450th birthday, Bill!
P.S. Signs you’re a Word Nerd, #423: Your jam? Shakespeare memes. True story.
Originally published in 1939, this delightful story of a humble girl bunny who dreams of becoming one of the five Easter Bunnies celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Published just a year prior to his unexpected death, Heyward dedicated it to his only child, Jenifer, as it was one of her favorite stories to hear him tell.
The Country Bunny [spoiler alert!] is a big-dreamer-turned-superwoman figure. The big boy bunnies all laugh at her believing she can become one of the five Easter Bunnies. She grows up and has 21 babies, whom she raises impeccably. Then, when an Easter bunny spot opens up, Little Mother Cottontail [as she is now known] competes for it with the big boy bunnies, who all laugh at her again – so much the louder because she has had 21 children. But the Grandfather Bunny is impressed with her speed, wisdom, kindness and cleverness – all of which she proves through the example of her exceptional children – and names her the fifth Easter Bunny. And the story continues with the adventure of her first Easter Eve, delivering baskets all over the world. It’s quite a tale [ba-dum bum]!
Incidentially, Heyward also wrote a 1925 novel, Porgy, which his wife Dorothy adapted into a a 1927 play, which was adapted by George Gershwin into the iconic 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. No slouch, this guy.
Happy Easter, everyone!
Apostrophe misuse got the most votes in Grammarly’s Grammar Madness competition for Most Maddening Writing Error.
Mis-postrophization was my pick [woot!], and my favorite editor’s biggest bane . . . he once pulled over, parked and went into a theatre’s box office to report the appalling apostrophization of the venue’s show sign out in front: a musical tribute to blues singer Fat’s Waller. Ack.
Geocache got the most votes in Hasbro’s Scrabble Word Showdown. This noun-verb combo will become the newest entry in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Online Official Scrabble Players Dictionary [redundancy much?].
Geocaching, FYI, is a real-world, outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and try to find the geocache (container) hidden at the location.
Oh, well, zen and woot [woot!] – next year is another year.
Now go have a wonderful weekend, full of appropriate apostrophizing & geocaching fun!