In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Last year I started writing a book. Aaron had written “The Sneezing Christmas Tree” in 2011, and he made it look so easy. I discovered that what Aaron makes look easy is actually very difficult for most people. Writing a book, while juggling the needs of my family, was hard! Pretty much the only way I could do it was to not get enough sleep or to use my very limited out-of-the-house-without-kids time to write–which meant I wasn’t spending time with friends.

Nobody outside my family has read what I started, but I decided I might as well share it instead of just letting it sit on my computer. Since our experience on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last year sparked the idea of writing a book, I decided today would be a great day to share the beginning of my writing. I’ll post a little at a time over the next few weeks.


Playing tag in sub-zero weather probably wasn’t the best idea. The long-awaited January snow–the first real “snow” of the season–was falling beautifully outside. The previous winter had given us very few opportunities for playing in the snow, having been unseasonably warm. This winter started much the same–until January 21. The blanket of white perfection beckoned us.

The windchill was -6 degrees F. I’ve heard it said there’s no such thing as bad weather, just improper dressing. We weren’t about to let the cold keep us from having fun. We bundled warmly and started toward the backyard.

Knowing the drill, the girls made paths immediately. Soon we had a perfect course for playing tag, and the game began. For a few minutes we chased and giggled and fell in the snow.

“I know I’m a little out-of-shape,” I began, “but my lungs are really burning.”

“Yeah, mine, too,” said the girls.

“And my feet are frozen,” added Kayla. Her boots had fallen off a few times during the game.

Visions of hot chocolate danced through our heads as we left the extreme cold and returned to the comfort of our house. Soon we were sitting around the table with mugs of rich cocoa warming our hands.

I didn’t really plan what happened next. I just asked a question.

“Does anyone know what today is?”

“Flowery’s birthday!” the girls answered.

“That’s right. It is Flowery’s birthday.” Kayla, my oldest, pretends to be the mother of 16 children. And of course, a mother always remembers her child’s birthday.

“Do you know what else today is? I’ll give you a hint. It’s a holiday.”

Their guesses were cute–Valentine’s Day and Easter–but they didn’t know it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“Oh yeah. I saw that on the calendar. What’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day?” asked Kayla.

This was the second time we had talked about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The first time happened on a warm fall afternoon more than two years ago. I still remember it clearly. Kayla, Madeline, and I sat together on the deck as they practiced writing and capitalizing the names of holidays. We started with the first holiday in January but never made it past Valentine’s Day. They had so many questions about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

They were young then–six and four–so I didn’t expect them to remember everything we talked about. What mattered most was their curiosity and engagement in what we were doing. That same curiosity–that same passion for learning–was still there more than two years later.

Now eight and six, they had another sister joining the discussion. Savannah, four, no longer took an afternoon nap.

I pulled “American Heroes” from our bookshelf and began reading. Soon I needed a map.

Together we found places MLK Jr. lived and traveled. We discussed doctorate degrees, protest marches, and boycotting. We talked about police officers, nonviolent protesting, and Rosa Parks. We conversed about equality and not being judged by the color of our skin. We watched King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and learned about the Nobel Peace Prize. We looked at pictures of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The girls asked many questions, and Madeline wanted to know why someone would want to assassinate such a great man.

Over two days we discussed all this and more.

I never dreamed being a mom could be like this. Watching my children learn is one of my greatest passions in life. The joy is incredible, and keeping it to myself began to feel selfish.

I decided it was time to share my story.

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