If there is one classic beach read for every mom – actual beach trip or not – it’s Gift From the Sea. You may be familiar with it since this book is inevitably a prop in summer magazine photos and bookstore vignettes. I’d say it’s practically the Gideon Bible of coastal homes. There is no better book for sinking into the introspection and contemplation naturally inspired by a view of the horizon.
This classic was first published in 1955 and has been in continuous publication ever since. It’s observations are as true today as they were half a century ago. It’s written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of aviator Charles A. Lindbergh but also an author, mother, and accomplished aviator in her own right.
After marrying the world’s first international celebrity, Lindbergh lost her priviacy to the ever-present paparazzi and then suffered the infamous kidnapping and murder of her firstborn son, a horror that changed her life forever. In her book, she uses uses the metaphor of various seashells to illustrate the many roles a woman assumes throughout her life.
Her observations take place during a stay at her family’s seaside cottage where she, along with her sister, enjoy the stark simplicity of having only what they need and no more. (I confess one of my favorite vacation moments is walking into the condo or beach house to find only the appliances and tools we need for our stay; unlike home, there are not yet any accumulations or clutter to complicate our visit.)
It’s amazing to think that generations of mothers have read Gift From the Sea and been able to relate so completely to a woman whose life was extraordinary and yet so similar. In her introduction, she even confesses the occasional insecurity we all face, wondering if other women have things more together: “They manage amazingly well, far better than I, it seemed to me, looking at their lives from the outside. With envy and admiration, I observed the porcelean perfection of their smoothly tick-tocking days.”
It’s an easy read, scarcely over 100 pages. Take it with you to the beach, the bathtub, or the back yard deck – wherever you can find a moment to enjoy Lindbergh’s gift from the sea.