On Shakespeare, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and That Pillow I Made in Sewing Class

“Man does not know its value”

Job 28:13


I know, I know, I’ve been putting stuff back into my bedroom for weeks since our remodeling.  But now we’re down to stuff we have to make decisions about, like, “where do I put this now that we’ve decided to get rid of that dresser?” and a lot of, “do we still need/want this?”

So today, the objects in question are pillows. We’ve got way too many, if you ask me.  But I’m not sure what to do about it.  A few of them are bed pillows, but it’s not really my call if they stay or if they go.  The Apple of my Eye has had back and neck issues, so he has tried a variety of pillows for sleeping.  I don’t know ~ and maybe he doesn’t either ~ if he wants to save them, or if he’s decided they’re not for him.

The other pillows are a few decorative throw pillows.  We used to use them as back support if we ever read in bed, but we have a new bed and he made us a new headboard, so we don’t need them for that anymore.  So are we done with them?  Do I just throw them away?  Do I wash them and give them to charity?  Still pondering.

And then there is the pillow I made when I was a kid.  One of my first sewing projects.  It’s looking a little ratty, but I feel like I should save it, just by virtue of its age.  But is that a good enough reason?


As we start a new school year, I’ve gotten organized.  Getting out new textbooks, storing or giving away old ones.  And then of course there’s all the supplemental material I’ve picked up along the way.  All sorts of activities pages, workbooks, unit studies on different subjects.  And one of those subjects is Shakespeare.  I have long tried to figure out the best way for my kids to learn about Shakespeare, and exactly how much to learn.

photo credit: wikigallery

You see, I have to confess that I think Shakespeare is a bit overrated.  I know I’m gonna get some grief for saying that.  But I guess I wonder if everyone would really think he was so good if he lived now.  You know what I mean?  Is he held in such high regard simply because his work has been around so long?  Or has his work been around so long because it’s so good?  Is there any there there?  Or is it like The Emperor’s New Clothes, and no wants to say, “You know what?  Shakespeare’s plots all sounds alike.”  Or whatever criticism one might choose. 


Of course, as my kids’ teacher, I try not to tell them what to think.  I try to lead them through varied sources on any topic, that they might come to their own, educated opinions.  So of course I want them to know about Shakespeare, and his role in history.   I want them to know the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and a Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I want them to recognize the source behind such famous quotes as, “Out, damned spot!” and, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

But I don’t want them to think anything is great, or valuable, or worthy, just because others tell them it’s so.  And there are things that are precious simply by virtue of being old.  Like a longtime friendship, or my grandmother’s handkerchiefs, or even the pillow I made nearly forty years ago. 


But more important than any precious earthly treasure, are the things eternal.  These are the things that we will discover to be valuable, and worthy of holding on to, when moth and rust have destroyed our material goods, and when our culture no longer esteems certain ideas or values.


Trust in the One who made heaven and earth.  And lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.


~ “For where your treasure is,

        there your heart will be also.” ~

Matthew 6:21


6 responses to “On Shakespeare, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and That Pillow I Made in Sewing Class

  1. I love that scripture and am gently trying to get my sweetie to realize that he puts too much emphasis on worldly things.

    but! just yesterday the Five got talking about home ec classes and things they’d made and it made me wonder why i don’t have the turtle pillow i made, so i vote to keep that.


  2. Although it is not a “heavenly treasure,” here’s a reason to save that pillow you made in childhood: In their old age, it will be an earthly treasure to your children and even your children’s children, just like those handkerchiefs of your grandmother’s.


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