On Monday nights our mother made popcorn and served it to us in mugs with milk poured over. My younger sister and I carried our mugs into the family room and ate the popcorn with spoons, like cereal. We were five and seven. Until we were allowed to see movies in the theater, we thought this was the way everyone ate popcorn.
Little House came on at eight. The plaintive thrill of those four opening notes! Loneliness, isolation, single wagon in relief against an empty sky. Then the orchestra broke in, Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie came tumbling down the grassy hillside, Pa and Ma smiling at them from their wagon seat. No one isolated, no one lonely.
While we watched, Claire and I took turns rubbing our mother’s forearms and hands and swollen feet. She said this made her feel relaxed. We didn’t mind the job, we hardly noticed we were doing it, lost as we were in the gentle trials of the Ingalls family.