Cranberry Thanksgiving: Any Stranger Can be Mr. Whiskers
For two decades, I had one of the most exciting jobs.
I was a teacher.
Teaching was rewarding in so many ways, but my favorite part of the school day, by far, was read-aloud time. No matter what our day looked like, I made sure to get in fifteen minutes of story time. At best, throughout my career, I got to read hundreds of children's books. Holiday-time being my favorite for perusing shelves of great reads. I always chose my favorites because a love for certain books projects itself in such a warm and fuzzy way.
One book in particular, a favorite of mine was Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin.
The setting is near a cranberry bog in New England by the sea. Maggie and her grandmother each invite a friend to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Grandmother invites Mr. Horace, who is well-mannered, poised, and smells of lavender. Maggie invites Mr. Whiskers, an unrefined, out spoken fisherman who smells like the sea. The two men are complete opposites. Halfway through the book, I'd stop reading and my students and I would compose a list of descriptors for each character. Mr. Whiskers' list consisted of words, like smelly, bad, and dishonest. Mr. Horace was described as nice, friendly, and smart.
Then, I'd continue reading. The change of heart my students would have toward Mr. Whiskers near the end of the story was always heart-felt. And I knew they'd learned a valuable lesson.
Mr. Whiskers is very much like Pipp, one of the characters in my newest novel, All But One. Like Mr Whiskers, Pipp is unconventional. She's doesn't care how she dresses or what people think of her. At first glance, readers might see Pipp as a bit disheveled, wearing grungy clothes and long, unruly hair. Plus, her motorcycle being her only form of transportation adds to the stigma of this strange and candid character.
This Thanksgiving, say hello to complete strangers. My husband once told me that I would stop and listen to anyone on the street. I smiled and said, "It just may be that I was the only person who made a difference in their day."
A smile is worth a thousand words. Don't be afraid to share.