Thursday, November 29, 2007


Last year, for the memoir unit I teach my students, I decided to model one with them. So, I started to write one to use as a teaching tool. We recently began our memoir unit again, and the other day I pulled out the piece I had written last year without thinking. In the midst of writing workshop, as I was reading my memoir to my students I had to pause and catch my breath. So vivid were the pictures in my mind, it felt like a punch in the gut....I decided it is worth sharing in this space. Not because I think it's my best piece of writing, my intended audience was, after all, third graders, but because it carries a special emotional weight now, one year later. A slight disclaimer: I did many things on purpose- both good and bad- in this piece of writing. It was meant as a teaching tool, and I have used it as such. Also, we learn about certain craft strategies in this unit-- repeated phrases for example--and you will see me using them in my writing. (Kelli, the story is written in what we like to call vignettes in third grade!)
So, without further ado, here it is:

When I was little I went to Nonnie and Bebop’s house for every holiday and some other special occasions. Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, Easter…these were all celebrated at Nonnie and Bebop’s house. We gathered together around her big wooden dining room table.

When I was little, we all sat with elbows bumping, around the table. It sat, in the middle of the room, dark wood gleaming, looking so solid that you knew you’d never be able to move it, no matter how hard you tried. The chairs around it looked nice enough for a king and queen, and were covered in cranberry red velvet that was soft to the touch. The table was always set with a lacy white tablecloth, straight from Italy, and, because there were so many of us, mismatched plates and cups and forks.

When I was little the table was filled with food. There was so much food that you could barely see the tablecloth underneath it. You’d eat so much antipasto that you would be full before you even started the main course. We’d sit down and you’d have to wait, foot tapping, stomach grumbling, while the food got passed around. Hand to hand, pausing while someone took one more bite, until finally it got to you and you could carefully choose your favorites.

When I was little, I’d curl up in my dad’s lap, stomach full and eyes heavy, and doze. The voices of my family would blend together into one low comforting buzz, and I’d fall asleep to that noise of love and family.

When I was little, we gathered around Nonnie and Bebop’s big wooden dining room table and laughed and laughed and laughed together…

1 comment:


so sweet!