Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood

I love history. I love seeing how things that happened in the past influence the things of today. Perhaps it's because it shows me how things that I do today can influence things that will happen in the future, and that gives significance to the little day-to-day routines.

I learned some new history today, quite unexpectedly.

When I was a little girl, I loved the story of Red Riding Hood. I made my mother read it to me so many times that I could recite it. I liked to act out the story, so my grandmother made me a little red cape and hood to wear as I played.

Then the year I turned five, I decided I wanted to be Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween, so she made me a dress to go with it. At least, that's the story I've always heard. It's what my mother told me. Now I'm wondering if I was influenced at all in that decision. Perhaps without even my mother's knowledge. We certainly influence Little Girl in her Halloween costume decisions. We let her decide what she wants to be, but we definitely offer up suggestions and talk them up in the hopes of convincing her that she wants to be what we'd like her to be. :) Laura Ingalls... Alice in Wonderland... Little Red Riding Hood... oh, did I say Little Red Riding Hood? Back to the story...

So my grandmother made me a darling little red dress with a white pinafore of eyelet. I was in kindergarten that year, and there was a costume contest at school -- the entire elementary lined up along the edges of the gym while the judges walked back and forth, looking closely at each of us. And then the prizes were awarded. The scariest costume... the funniest costume... And when they called out the name for the most beautiful costume, it was mine.

The time came, of course, when I outgrew the costume, and it was tucked safely away in my closet. My little sister wore it, and it was put away once more. And there it sat, unused, for years upon years upon years.

And then along came Little Girl. I got the costume out when she was four and tried it on her. It was a little big but she was absolutely adorable.

In October, we took her trick-or-treating at an amusement park that had a Storybook Village. Of course she had to be Little Red Riding Hood. She was so adorable going around all the little fairytale houses in that costume. Here she is trick-or-treating from the Old Woman that lived in a Shoe.

This week her class is doing a fairytale day and the children are supposed to dress up like a fairytale character. Little Girl, of course, is Little Red Riding Hood. And though my grandmother has seen her in this costume before, we even have pictures of her with Little Girl in the costume, she told me a story today that she has never told me before.

"Little Girl is wearing that Little Red Riding Hood costume I made for you to school," she called to tell me. "Do you know why I made you that dress?"

"Because Little Red Riding Hood was my favorite story?" I responded.

"No," she said. "When I was in high school, we had some kind of special event and people were dressed up and such, and one of the teachers had a little grandchild there who was wearing a dress like Little Red Riding Hood. I thought it was just the cutest thing. And I always wanted to make a dress like that for a little girl. So then when you were little, I remembered that and that's why I made you that dress."

Some child wore a Little Red Riding Hood dress around 1940, and that's why Little Girl is Little Red Riding Hood at school today almost seventy years later.

What might the little things I do today influence seventy years from now?

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