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On Fairy Tales: I Used To Think…

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“Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers.”  Hans Christian Andersen

On Fairy Tales: I Used To Think... Beauty and the Beast

Peter Pan: I used to think… Peter’s fantasy was a terrific and feasible notion… but youth isn’t everlasting.
Cinderella: I used to think… every undiscovered princess would find her slipper and have her moment of celebration and all evil stepmothers would live to see it happen… but not all get their chance.
Beauty and the Beast: I used to think… that true love comes in many guises and that honoring our promises brings goodwill our way… indeed, this is true but broken promises don’t always result in bad outcomes.
The Three Little Pigs: I used to think… Pig #3 bravely outwitted the Big Bad Wolf alone in his house of hard bricks and … that is true; though the help of other like-minded pigs can save the day against a conniving wolf in our world.
Hansel and Gretel: I used to think… that the wicked witch and evil stepmother got their just desserts … but, while Gretel acted in “self-defense”, taking a life is not something I would recommend.

Do you have childhood memories of reading your favorite fairy tales? Did it have any impact on your growing years? adulthood? I spent a good portion of my childhood ensconced in the world of books and remember those days warmly… Books were an escape from the humdrum of daily life; I could open a book and find myself entering a world peopled with magical characters living adventurous lives.

From the comfort of my bed, an armchair or even my dad’s home office/library, I read all the story books on fairy tales; Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and more, countless times, and absorbed the message each conveyed about the moral underpinnings of human behavior and life that each tale shared. Some were pretty obvious while others had teachings that took a moment longer to decipher. However, each left a lingering memory that has stayed with me over the years. While I slowly add what I used to think about each fairy tale listed, feel free to leave a comment about your favorite fairy tale and what you used to think about it…

“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” Eugene O’Neill

On Fairy Tales: I Used To Think... Spoons depicting scenes from Snow White, Red Riding Hood & Hansel & Gretel

Goldilocks and the Three Bears: I used to think… that being a Nosy Parker could endanger your life or cost you dearly for trespassing, but daily tabloids invade people’s lives with minimal consequences.
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs: I used to think…that jealousy and eating food from strangers could be deadly, but a prince will always save the day… A Prince might not save us, but jealousy poisons relationships.
Little Red Riding Hood: I used to think… that wandering off alone and/or with strangers is a bad idea and dangerous for a child… this is still true; even for adults.
The Emperor’s New Clothes: I used to think…that while some might use hypocrisy and snobbery to get ahead, the innocence of children can see through it all … True; from the mouth of babes comes wisdom, is still an apt saying.
Father Frost: I used to think … all stepmothers were evil and that kindness to strangers has its rewards… Not all stepmoms are evil, and kindness has its reward.

As I was contemplating what to write today, a prompt floated before me and got me thinking. ‘I used to think…’ took me back to those childhood years, a time of great change and wonderment and imagination about the world of adults, and I started to imagine what I got out of the many fairy tales I read. Sure, like O’Neill suggests, there were moments when I expected magic doors to open, and sometimes they did… I bet many of us, women mainly, expected Prince Charming to either ride into town on his white horse or walk through the door; for some he did and for others he never quite got here… he might still be on his way.

There were times I imagined that peace was the gift of middle age, the reward during our years of retirement, and that youth was a time for adventure, some reckless but all making us curious for more; peace was not part of the equation. But youth had its peaceful times too; albeit fleeting, and eventually we learned fact from fiction. Now looking back at those stories with adult eyes, I chuckle at some of the lessons learned and have added a line or so to each story. Each starts with ‘I Used To Think…’ Do come back for the rest later as I have a lot of ground to cover. What did You Used To Think?  🙂

“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery … People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”  Ben Okri

On Fairy Tales: I Used To Think...Sleeping Beauty

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp: I used to think… that while Aladdin’s good intentions triumph over evil, having a magic lamp or ring would be great… in fantasy-land, yes.
Sleeping Beauty: I used to think… that even a princess who died at the spindle of the Spinning Wheel had to be revived by yet another handsome prince… well, a good witch had intervened showing the power of a strong woman; they do exist.
Rapunzel: I used to think… Rapunzel’s hair and voice had magical qualities, sadly she never saw her parents again, the overzealous witch was harsh and, again, a prince saved the day … True, but we can skip the prince and help save ourselves from oppressors …
Rumpelstiltskin: I used to think… Lying, talking too much, and making empty bombastic claims and promises is a terrible thing to do… Exactly, and many have been felled by false claims and exaggerations.
The Ugly Duckling: I used to think… inner beauty matters and those who abused the ugly duckling were mean and should live to see him grow into a swan … precisely, and this hope-filled story reminds me that we can all transform for the better.

In the magical world of fairy tales, good prevailed over evil and the wicked witches and evil stepmothers had their comeuppance. Sadly the world of adults could never quite match the storybook life as we have all seen evil stick around a lot longer than it did in those glorious tales. As for the many messages we learned about inner beauty trumping outer beauty, somehow that message got lost in the world of advertising, as products and treatments to make ourselves fabulous, externally, rule the day.

“If you see the magic in a fairy tale, you can face the future.” Danielle Steel

On Fairy Tales: I Used To Think... The Frog Prince

The Frog Prince: I Used To Think… If you kissed enough frogs, the prince would show up. Sometimes he doesn’t.
The Golden Goose: I used to think… that one good deed, sharing our food, leads to more good all around, making a solemn princess laugh, and that thieves will get caught… the sentiments remain the same.
Jack and the Beanstalk: I used to think… that Jack’s daring, theft, and violence towards the giant (who terrorized others) made no sense and was all about greed… Not much has changed and the behavior persists in the real world.
Little Mermaid: I used to think… that the little mermaid’s bravery, desire, dharmic actions, and deep love earned her a well deserved eternal soul… it remains a favorite and a reminder that love and the human soul are priceless.
Tom Thumb: I used to think… that Tom was a fun and adventurous boy who never let his size stop him… I still agree wonderful things can come in small packages.

I love Danielle Steele’s quote because she reminds us that the point of these fairy tales/stories, outside of their pithy underlying meaning, was to create a magical world, a fantastic world where we had the power to do things, to change things, to see good shine, to understand human behavior, and imagine a grand future where we could and would make a difference. Even though I quickly noticed the pattern of a handsome prince always rescuing the damsel in distress, I still love the magic and moral lessons of fairy tales. Fairy Tales also carry a message of hope, albeit a magical one, and for that I remain grateful. What about you? What are your thoughts? What did you used to think about the fairy tales you read as a child? How has it colored your ADULT LIFE? What played out differently? Do share! Thank you. 😉

This post was partly inspired by a prompt from MamaKat’s Writers Workshop: I used To Think…

Positive Motivation Tip: Fairy Tales hold a special place in many hearts… go back there momentarily for the wonderment, the moral underpinning, and then the reality check.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos via Beauty and the Beast, The Bears and More, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince Wikipedia.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

29 Comments leave one →
  1. 27/07/2011 12:23 am

    Peter Pan was my hero. I didn’t worry about aging (I don’t think I even understood what that meant), but I loved the idea of flying by happy thoughts 😉

    • 27/07/2011 4:36 am

      I loved that flying part too… and have my scars to show for it. 😆

      • 27/07/2011 4:52 am

        Hi all,
        I will catch up on commenting on your blogs soon… been hectic with the heatwave we had. 🙂

  2. 27/07/2011 12:51 am

    The Sleeping Beauty painting is lovely. I’m entranced by artwork from that era. Thought-provoking post about fairy tales. I loved the one about the twelve dancing princesses. Do you know that one?

    • 27/07/2011 4:41 am

      Aye, I knew it as The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes and haven’t heard that story in years…
      It’s a great story too… TY! 🙂

    • 28/07/2011 11:49 pm

      Is it the one that Barbie had a remake of? The one with 12 dancing sisters who had a secret pavilion wherein they dance since their evil aunt wouldn’t allow them to dance 🙂

    • 28/07/2011 11:49 pm

      Is it the one that Barbie had a remake of? The one with 12 dancing sisters who had a secret pavilion wherein they dance since their evil aunt wouldn’t allow them to dance 🙂 I liked that one too.

  3. 27/07/2011 4:21 am

    As an Expat I think I can relate to Alice in Wonderland or in my case Piglet in Portugal “Alice aka piglet steps through the Looking Glass into Wonderland (Portugal) a strange land in which she encounters many strange things.

    • 27/07/2011 4:49 am

      I can see myself stepping through the magical looking glass of that wonderful novel too. TY! 🙂

  4. 27/07/2011 4:45 am

    those spoons are wonderful!

  5. 27/07/2011 6:32 am

    I can still hear my mother’s voice, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”
    Sometimes she’d have to chase after me to comb my hair. When she caught me, she’d say, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” “Come on, Rapunzel, time to let down that hair!” Fond memories

  6. 27/07/2011 7:49 am

    I have been reflecting back on my childhood days alot here in the past few days, this blog has helped to bring many memories back to surface. I lost my brother last week, and its been very difficult getting back into the swing of things, being inspired to write and keep up with each of my blogging buddies. Please bare with me, and thank you for your inspiration and support. This was a lovely blog, enjoyed reading.

    • 28/07/2011 6:11 pm

      Hi Penny, I left you a message on your blog too… I am so sorry to hear about your brother’s passing and extend my condolences to you and your family…. These are difficult times and I won’t pretend to know what you are going through. Please know that I am so, so sorry about this and would gladly help in anyway you suggest.
      Be blessed,

  7. richard permalink
    27/07/2011 9:10 am

    i used to think that I knew a lot. Now I think I know very little. Hopefully I’m more curious than scared to find out. nice fairy tale references- hadn’t thought about these in so many years.. good to remember what they were about! nice post!

  8. 27/07/2011 11:52 am

    My parents never used to read us fairy tales because they were scary and we would get nightmares of hearing them. I guess I missed out big time when I was little!

  9. 27/07/2011 4:51 pm

    I’m striving to create a fairy tale life in my mid 30s. I guess I just haven’t accepted that ‘what I used to think’ doesn’t necessarily ring true in the adult world… I’m still waiting for my ‘happily ever after!’
    Great list of fairytales!

  10. 27/07/2011 8:43 pm

    I enjoy fairy tales with happy endings. 😀

  11. 28/07/2011 12:17 am

    As a child I too lived in a world of books. Fairy tales were wonderful when the beautiful princess won over the wicked queen but some caused angst. I worried so much about Hansel and Gretel!

  12. 28/07/2011 5:14 am

    thanks for your title
    I only knew the German title Rumpelstilzchen – one of my favorite fairy tales – and my grandsons like it too …

  13. 28/07/2011 5:17 am

    I don’t know the English title of “Hans im Glück” – a fairy tale about a boy, who at first had a ton of gold, then a horse, then a pig at the very end: nothing – I like this story …

  14. 28/07/2011 8:03 am

    You know, I’d forgotten a lot of these childhood stories. I think my favourite was always Cinderella. Marrying the prince and the beautiful dress and the fairy godmother!

    I’ve always remembered “The boy who cried wolf” as a tale with a real moral.

  15. 28/07/2011 11:28 am

    Eliz, my favorite is still the little mermaid as well. She seemed proactive in her fate and I always respected that quality. Great post! Miriam

  16. 28/07/2011 11:47 pm

    The magical world of fairy tales have enchanted me since I was very young. Even now I enjoy going back to watching/reading these age-old tales with nostalgia… and then some. Growing up, the characters and lessons have become more potent. Sure the “awesomeness” of having magic would have been a dream-come-true, but the actions, decisions, and qualities of the protagonists are equally inspiring – selflessness, simplicity, and love. I am reminded of the movie Aquamarine wherein Hailey told Aqua that Love is the closest thing humans have to magic. So true.

    On a different note, I also like Tata Young’s take on fairy tales – women empowerment. Just to share a few lines on her song Cinderella: “I don’t wanna be like Cinderella
    Sittin’ in a dark old dusty cellar
    Waiting for somebody, to come and set me free
    I don’t wanna be like Snow White waiting
    For a handsome prince to come and save me
    On a horse of white, unless we’re riding side by side
    Don’t want to depend on no-one else
    I’d rather rescue myself….

    I can slay, my own dragon
    I can dream, my own dreams
    My knight in shining armour is me
    So I’m gonna set me free ”

    I don’t have a particular favorite story though But I’d like to add the Polar Bear King in your list (I finally got a hold of a copy of the movie my dad and I onced watched when I was young).

    Great post!

  17. 29/07/2011 10:59 am

    Hi! Very helpful tip on this post!

  18. 31/07/2011 12:18 am

    Great post! I loved it! 🙂


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