Life Amongst Eleven Children

Enjoy this wonderful passage from Fr. Vincent McNabb about the best present parents can give.

"Having been the last of seven sons, and the last but one of eleven children, I bear solemn testimony that the best Christmas toy parents can present to their darling son or daughter is not a teddy bear or a railway train, but another little brother or sister. . . .

"When I look back on my home life, I find I had few toys, and those for the most part very costless. Nowhere in the home were there many toys. But six brothers and four sisters make toys an inconsequence. Indeed, we were inclined to look down on toys. The mere toy-loving boy had a name amongst us that was the Gaelic of something forcible rather than polite. We clearly distinguished between toys and other means of joy-production, such as story-books, games like chess, draughts, etc., and playthings such as footballs and cricket gear. Yet I need hardly say that life amongst eleven children can hardly be painted grey. My experience of it, expressed in colour, would demand a hot scarlet. I still bear in my flesh the proud records of some of our most blood-curdling, and even blood-shedding experiences. Almost my only remembered toy was a large sailor-made yacht for pond-sailing. I got a good deal of excitement out of it, not by sailing it, but by rescuing it from my brothers, who all claimed right of primogeniture in it. Another most beloved toy was my next eldest brother, dear L------, still, God love him, in the flesh. He shared my sorrows, nay, sometimes caused them. He was the better part of all my joys. He was my hero in the playing fields. He was my man-at-arms to protect me. Together we roamed the meadows, or went a holidaying by the docks, or swam out to sea, or undertook boating in narrow and perilous creeks."

--Fr. Vincent McNabb, O.P., “On Playthings,” in The Chesterton Review, Volume 22, No.1 & 2, February and May, 1996, 21-22.

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