Wise things come in small packages…

Traci S. Sanders

Birthdays are milestones, for the young and old alike. For some, it is a celebration; for others, a reflection.

I’m in the middle of all these birthdays; actually, a bit over the top. Yet I find myself in a peculiar place, going through what is, by all accounts, for the very young – picture books. The first time I read these, I didn’t realize just how much wisdom there was in those illustrated pages, but then I started reading. And I realized that so many are about love and compassion; hopes and dreams; loss and healing – in essence, growing up and growing old. Life gave me a new perspective by which to read these words, so while the words stayed the same, the meanings have changed.

That is the power of books. We come to them one way, yet leave as another. I used to think that books had an expiration date for when you could learn from them, even enjoy them. I was wrong. Because as we add to our story, the stories add to us.

So, this birthday, as the calendar moves forward one more year, I am incredibly grateful for the wisdom discovered, and rediscovered; and all within the pages of children’s timeless books.


“The tax man cometh…”

Traci S. Sanders

Want to hear one of the best ideas out there?

Not so long ago, I walked into a restaurant and the guy behind the counter starts sharing his friend’s story. Here it is:

Every time his friend received money – for birthdays (starting with the first) and holidays, his dad took half. My husband would call that “Dad Tax,” but his usually has to do with dessert. I’m not sure if that’s what this guy’s dad called it, but for this story, it works.

When this boy got old enough to realize what his dad was doing, the tradition was set. And so, every year, without fail, that’s what he did. “Dad Tax.”

Fast forward to his graduation from high school. Guess what his dad gave him for a gift? Thousands of dollars all saved from years and years of birthdays and holidays. Because, as his dad told him then (and I paraphrase): “If I gave it all to you, you would have spent it on what every boy, myself included, spent it on – candy, toys, gadgets – things you never would have saved; instead you’re starting life with a savings (and you still got to buy a bunch of that stuff). Congratulations son.”

To all those graduates out there – and those to come – Best Wishes!


The Yesterdays of Today

Traci S. Sanders

I like to think that history does not so much repeat itself; it echoes. As we celebrate the holidays this year, I find myself drawn more and more to this phrase, for every holiday has its traditions, yet none stay the same.

As I place gifts around the tree, they look similar to last year’s, but they are different inside, as are we. When we eat our meal, each bite brings back memories, yet the moment makes new ones. As we listen to old stories, we add chapters from our lives. And when we reminisce with photos of the past, we snap our cameras to capture the present.

It’s never the same, because it shouldn’t be. Perhaps that’s because a repeat can diminish, even erase what was, but an echo, that reverberates for a lifetime.

Enjoy the holidays.

The Box

Traci S. Sanders

During the holidays, a sense of nostalgia always washes over me. That’s when I open The Box. It’s not a gift anyone else would want. Full of scraps, scribbles, receipts, ticket stubs, even plastic toys that could only come from a gumball machine, it puts a smile on my face every time. “Remember this?” I say to my children who inevitably laugh and say, “Let me see that.” It’s a moment wrapped in a memory. These are my favorite gifts to share.

So, after the big presents are opened, and the boxes strewn to the side, keep one. And inside, fill it with all those things that will, someday, put a smile on your child’s face because it’s the little things that really matter when they come from those who matter the most.


Why We Love A Story

Traci S. Sanders

Character or plot? When I asked my fifth grade class what was more important to them, almost all said character. Why? Because it made them care, not just about those on the page, but about the world they inhabit.

I’ve thought about this a lot since the Coronavirus began. It has, in essence, changed humanity’s story. But how? At the beginning of this year, we were human doings, racing through our days. Then, somewhere along the way, as the virus became bigger in our world, our individual worlds became smaller. The plot changed, but not the characters.

Today, and every day, we spend more time with the people in our lives – face-to-face and computer to computer. And, in doing so, we are discovering that, perhaps, we had placed plot over character too many times in our own narratives; as hectic, as exciting, as routine, as surprising, the plot got in the way.

So, in today’s new world, let us remember that as good as the plot can be, it is the characters that make up the story. They are why the plot even matters; they are why the story even exists.