I’m not sure if TV was so real to me because I didn’t watch it often (growing up in Africa) or if I’m just the naive, gullible type. When I was in the States for 1 year in grade 5, almost every afternoon after school, my siblings and I would walk down the country road to my Grandparent’s small trailer to watch “Little House on the Prairie.” We’d fill up the livingroom (including the space on the brown shag carpet) and sing along with the theme song. Sometimes Grandma would have cookies for us, or Grandpa would hand around some fruit to snack on.
One afternoon, we were in the middle of an episode in which Pa and Laura were out camping. They were cooking over a fire and I remember wondering aloud what was in their frying pan. Then I answered myself, “Oh – it’s bacon. I can smell it.” Yes. . . I said I could smell what they were cooking on TV. . . Sigh. I’ve never lived that down. And I’m sure the bacon my Grandma was cooking for supper that night tasted delicious too.
I also remember the day I realized that Pa Ingalls wasn’t really Pa Ingalls. I mean, of course if I had thought it through, I would have know all along that he was an actor. (But if I’d thought it through, I’d also have known that I couldn’t smell bacon over the TV.) So, if Pa Ingalls was really Michael Landon, what was Michael Landon like? Was he wise like Pa? Did he follow God like Pa? Here was one of my heroes and I actually didn’t know him. I have this memory of a moment in the back of a car on the way to get groceries with my mom. I was looking up at the sky through the car window and feeling the different shades of grey of the clouds as they slid by. There were tears on my cheeks and I was praying – praying that Michael Landon would know God and that he’d go to heaven one day.
It’s crazy how much those shows influenced my life. I’d watch them as a grown up and be encouraged to be a better mom, better wife. I’d show them to my kids. Something about the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ style of living captured my daughter’s imagination. She’d dress up in bonnets and aprons and play with her friend Ellie for hours. Then when her little girl cousins came to visit, she planned an outting to the woods and topped it off with a tea party – ‘Little House on the Prairie’ style.
I guess I don’t mind being a little (or a lot) naive. I love that my kids saw the beauty in the simple, loving life of the Ingalls family. I loved that family too – probably because it reminded me a lot of my own.