Monday, June 4, 2012

Kiss My Ash

We are book burners, y'all. It's true. For about four years now, we have burned books and enjoyed every minute of it.

I guess I should clarify. We burn books. Not Books. The difference? Big B books are books--novels, literature, and the like--that we have read that have touched our lives in some way, made us feel something. Big B books are books that when you finished reading you wanted to pick up and read again right away. Or you wanted to share every last detail with someone who had read it as well, so you could relive it, or with someone who hadn't read it, so that you could convince them that they too should read the book. (My oldest son currently feels this way about S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders.) But big B books are also books that you read that maybe you didn't like so much, but you definitely have an opinion about them, perhaps because of the depth of your dislike. (Billy Budd, I am talking to you. The depth of my hatred for you has burned hotly since my freshman year of college. I would never burn you, but only because I want to use you as an example of how much I love books. "I love books so much that I can't even bring myself to burn Billy Budd!" Now that's true love, folks.) Little B books are the books that my kids come home from school with that are known as consumables--in other words, workbooks. Every year, I fork out money in the form of book fees (Free public education, my Aunt Fanny!) only to have my children bring home consumables that more often than not, have not been used much at all. And so, we let them be consumed. By fire.

This year, because of a baseball game and a crispy landscape due to a lack of rainfall, we postponed our annual Burn the Books Bonfire from last Wednesday, the kids' last day of school, to Saturday, the night before they were due to leave for my parents' house for their annual stay for VBS and general spoiling. It was all a bit rushed, but it worked out. The children particularly relished throwing in folders and papers from classes they didn't like and taunting them: "How d'ya like me now, gym folder?! Betcha you can't windsprint your way outta this one!" and "What now, math papers? Solve this problem!" and "Burn you dumb old spelling paper!" Yes, some taunts were a little more thought out than others, but they were all heartfelt.

My husband enjoys this tradition because he gets to be all Sammy Safety with the hose. The kids enjoy this tradition because it puts a definite end point on the school year. Books and papers are burned, there's no going back now. It marks the true beginning of summer for us. Books and papers are burned, we don't have to think about them anymore. Let's put our focus on cookouts and sleepovers and hours spent swimming and staying out after dark. And I love it because when the kids give me a basketful of papers that they think they neeeeeeed to keep, I can look at them and say with a wicked grin, "Oh sure, I suppose we could keep them, but wouldn't you rather watch them burn?" And then I get to watch all that potential clutter go up in smoke.

Smiley face made from ashes. :)
Everybody wins.

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