10 Things Anne of Green Gables Taught Me


There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think about Anne of Green Gables at least once. And I mention her – or at least one of her very quotable histrionics – equally as often.

AofGGMy great-grandmother, who I had the very good fortune of having in my life until I was 16 years old, would give me a classic book every year for my birthday. My favorite was a copy of Anne of Green Gables. I didn’t read it right away; it sat on my bookshelf collecting dust until I was on the cusp of adolescence. I don’t know if I was too young, or the cover of this particular version didn’t capture me (I have, unfortunately, been guilty of judging a book by its cover on occasion). Also, it was a three-in-one volume and thus, probably, the thickest and heaviest book I owned.

But, thank God I did pick it up eventually. It became a most-beloved, well-worn copy. The dust-jacket is ripped, the pages yellowed and bent, the spine is broken in places. Anne became a steady companion along the way, a source of wisdom, a kindred spirit. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued to gain enlightenment from her pages. I’m thinking it’s time for me to return once again for a re-read. And perhaps a nice leisurely viewing of the movie, for good measure.

This week the world has been been mourning the death of Jonathan Crombie, who played (actually, embodied) Gilbert Blythe in the 1980’s mini-series, and made the hearts of teenage girls everywhere flutter with first love. His passing has caused me to reflect once again on all the ways Anne of Green Gables has enriched my life, and all the wisdom I’ve gained and carried with me into adulthood.

So, here are 10 things Anne has taught me.

You can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.

We often find ourselves begrudging the commitments and obligations and duties in our life. At least I do. But, attitude is always a choice. And if I have a good attitude about something I must do, then I am sure to enjoy it 100 times more than if I grumble and moan about it the whole time.

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.

Who says we can only have one close friend? Not I! I am undoubtedly introverted, but my circle of friends are as dear to me as family. And on a different note, it’s always better to look for the ways that we’re connected, the ways we overlap, rather than for the things that divide us. Because once we find what makes someone a kindred spirit, we are better equipped to see the world through their eyes and accept how we’re different. The more kindred spirits we find, the more empathetic and kind we become.

It’s splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about, it makes one feel glad to be alive.

Curiosity at the world around us invites imagination. I read an article listing the Five Habits of Creative People, and in it the author mentions people who believe that knowing too much will hamper their ability to be creative (not at all true, by the way). But, Anne reminds us that we’ll never know everything, and that leaves a great deal of scope for the imagination; and in the meantime the world is too interesting for us to keep ourselves from discovering everything we can.

I’m not a bit changed–not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out.

When I look back on my life, on who I was when I was 12, 16, 20, 25, the core of who I am is the same. Life has scraped me a little bit, leaving some scars – I’ve experienced joy and pain, heartbreak and triumph, all of which has pruned me down and branched me out. I’m wiser and perhaps a bit more wary, but I love more because I have more people to love. And, it’s still me in there. I think my younger self would still be able to look at me and say, “ah. There you are. I know you.”

Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.

A fresh start every day. How beautiful is that? A new chance to ask for forgiveness, offer forgiveness, make amends. To start good habits and end bad ones. To be more productive, start new projects, learn new skills. To become a better friend, spouse, parent, child. To let go of bitterness and be kind, compassionate, and gracious.

The world calls them its storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.

Books are portals to enter other worlds – and they all come from someone’s imagination. I am in constant search of fairyland. Sometimes I remember the way to fairyland myself. Sometimes I am only able to graze it with my fingertips. Sometimes it eludes me altogether. But when I read, I am able to follow someone else into fairyland, and I can spend as much time as I want there.

I don’t want to be anyone but myself, even if I go uncomforted by diamonds all my life.

It’s easy to envy others for what they have. I have been guilty of it so many times; I sometimes joke that I have champagne taste on a beer budget. My school debt is a mile high and I work at a non-profit; my husband and I live on a strict budget. There are no diamond necklaces or puffed sleeves for me. I have to fight off envy – that sinister shadow. The reality is that we never know what someone’s struggles are, no matter how charmed their life looks to us. So, I daily attempt thankfulness for the rich blessings in my life. I am glad to be myself, and if I were asked to trade places with someone else (giving up my husband, my son, my gifts and talents, my hopes and dreams) to gain material things, well, forget it.

If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us.

This spring I have been working on my generosity of spirit. Looking for the best in others does more than give people the benefit of the doubt, it keeps the seeds of bitterness and distrust from growing in us. It’s hard to be kind in thought or deed when we are bitter. Nothing good comes from griping about the faults of other people. But a lot of good comes from seeing the very best in them; for one thing, it brings out the very best in us.

I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.

We never know what’s coming around the corner; even a minute from now is a mystery. Of course, tragedy could strike at any moment. But we can’t live that way. What good would that do? So, we do the only thing we can: we believe the best instead of the worst, we do the best we can loving people and acting graciously, and seeking God. The best (as we imagine it) may not be around the bend, but like Anne, I’m a glass half full kind of girl.

Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.

Oh yes. Indeed. Spring is in the air, the world is turning green, tulips are pushing their way through the dense, spongy, damp soil, the songbirds are trilling; And my son is close to walking, he’s learning new words, patting my back with his soft pudgy hands, offering me wet, open-mouth, way-too-big kisses. These are joyful days. I’m glad to be alive.

Anne of GG

Really, a smattering of 10 pieces of wisdom is a hard place to stop when it comes to Anne. The books are so full of gems. They are a good place to turn to when you’re in the depths of despair. Or when you’re luxuriating in the beauty of the world that surrounds you. Or when you’re just trying to get through a normal day. The books, and there are eight of them in total, are full of beauty, and gentle adventure, and timeless wisdom. I am so glad that I got to know Anne, and all of the tender-hearted folks in Avonlea who surround her, all those years ago.

What have you learned from Anne? Is there another book full of wisdom that has stuck with you from childhood?


2 thoughts on “10 Things Anne of Green Gables Taught Me

  1. My Teenage Book of Wisdom was ‘Jane Eyre’. Taught me so much about Strength of Self and the Power of Resilience. I used to love the love story in it but now find that creepy. But the character of Jane is indelibly a part of me because of that character and how Charlotte Bronte wrote her. Likewise, LM Montgomery has become a new heroine for me. Her writing truly left me breathless at times, needing to pause and re-read passages just for the sake of the beauty of the words and images. Thank you, thank you, Katie for suggesting Anne for me and my Charlotte!

    • Yes, I agree about Jane Eyre – which I read on YOUR suggestion! I love the character of Jane, and was wrapped up in the story, but could do without the creepy romance. I will always love that book though; I can ignore the romance.

      And I am so glad that you now love LM Montgomery as much as I do. People often comment on how much they love Anne of Green Gables, but so few people mention how beautiful her writing is in general. Her writing is so winsome and lovely. It catches my breath as well.

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