Before Thanksgiving break, my family decided that we’d stay put for the holidays. No unnecessary trips to restaurants, no shopping and no afternoons at the theater. Instead, we’d stay home, cook for ourselves and watch Netflix.
We introduced the girls to a lot of classics, such as Rear Window and Roman Holiday. One night, we watched one of my favorites, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had to explain most of Truman Capote’s best lines to Ava, who seemed confused that Manhattan socialite, Holly Golightly, was really a country bumpkin named Lula Mae Barnes. When Ava is older, I’ll explain the “Is she or isn’t she?” question that all the men asked each other. Was Holly authentic, or was she putting on an act to hide something?
Yet, isn’t everyone a little phony in some way?
When Holly ran up the steps of her New York apartment, I noticed that it seemed to be connected to a building that serves as the home base for another favorite film: You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan’s character and e-mail persona, “Shopgirl” lives in a beautiful place that looks identical to the one next to Holly’s. (Perhaps I watched way too much TV this weekend).
Whereas Breakfast at Tiffany’s questions who we are and what we’ve experienced, You’ve Got Mail asks us to question where we’re going. What are we supposed to do with this life of ours, and how are we supposed to make an indentation in the lives of others? What’s our purpose when our feet hit the floor in the morning? How do we help make the world go ’round?
I love You’ve Got Mail for many reasons, from the banter between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan to the fantasy of owning a children’s bookstore. When my daughters ask me what my dreams are, I have to admit that I don’t have many. But the one thing I always wanted was to own a store like my grandmother. She ran a ladies’ dress shop that had a coffee shop attached, named for my mother. “Betty’s” was the place where my mother and aunt grew up, serving customers a hot cup of something and a muffin of some sort, and then wrapping up their pretties to be worn someplace else. I’ve always wanted a place like that, but for whatever reason, I never pursued the path. The Mommyhood’s Katy Brown and You’ve Got Mail’s Kathleen Kelly have something else in common. Both of us, the real and the make believe, still miss our mothers so much it sometimes hurts to breathe.
When I was watching You’ve Got Mail for what had to be the 1,000th time, I also noticed how much The Little Shop Around the Corner resembles our city’s Taylor Books. With black shelves, patterned flooring and twinkle lights in the children’s section, the store feels like the place that I coulda/shoulda had. But since my dream store is already taken, I guess I’ll have to settle for the next best thing, and that’s seeing my books in the vintage displays.
If you missed the recent Daily Mail article written by Andrea Lammon, I published my first children’s book this year. It’s the story of fraternal twin boys, Sellie and Sam, who suffer from identical problems. The boys, approximately age 5, are scared of the dark and they often seek the comfort of Mom and Dad’s bed. Separation anxiety is a central theme in this book, which was written for children with their parents’ problems in mind. As I’ve said in a few interviews, my goal wasn’t to decide if co-sleeping or the concept of the family bed is a good or a bad idea. My objective was to uncover the humor in the situation. Like many ages, stages and phases of childhood (and parenthood), this too shall pass. If a child wants to feel a little safer or a little closer by crawling under the covers, then by all means, share that pillow. In time, our babies won’t even be in the same house with us, let alone down the hall. Let alone on the few inches of mattress next to us.
I’m sure the book will stir some controversies of “giving in” and not practicing enough “tough love” that promotes independence. And that’s fine. I expect it. But, in our house, scooting over to make room for two little girls — every now and then — hasn’t hurt anything or anyone. As the back cover states, we need to pick our battles. And this was one that Mike and I didn’t care to fight. During the days of Sandy Hook school shooting news, there was no other place we wanted to be. Sometimes, hanging on to our children a little tighter is more for our reassurance than it is theirs.
Watching old movies has served as a great escape from reality. All of the silly running around and taking part in seasonal insanity hasn’t been missed. But if I do start to suffer from a case of cabin fever, you now know where you can find me. I’ll be the woman wandering around a certain little shop around the corner pretending, like a bit of a phony, that the place belongs to me.
Do you want to take part in Cyber Monday? Look for “Kat Tales” and “Sellie and Sam” on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble websites. You can also order through the West Virginia Book Company’s link: