Steven Harvey believes Thoreau was wrong when he called on us to simplify our lives. According to Harvey, life lived as part of a family can never be simple - as a glance at the jottings and crosshatchings of the kitchen calendar reminds us - yet it offers a route to reality and teaches essential lessons about passion, growth, and loss. In this collection of honest, eloquent essays, Harvey delves into the richness and wonder of life in a nuclear family cut adrift from history and tradition. From the babble of babies to the idiosyncratic furnishings of a summer cottage, from a wrestling match with children on the bedroom rug to a daughter's role in a community play, Harvey records the struggle of one family to create its own rituals and myths. He also deals with the longings, fears, and temptations that color life in an American family. While acknowledging simplicity as an American ideal, he believes that families make our simple lives messy - and therefore real. Twice honored in the Associate Writing Program's nonfiction contest, this volume of luminous essays reveals the paradox that is the core of family life. Every mother is a daughter and every father a son. A daughter leaves home as she becomes the apple of her parents' eyes, and a son grows into manhood by walking away from the father he resembles more each passing day. Harvey suggests that we take on and shed such roles with apparent ease, living according to a hidden geometry, and like the seemingly simple lily, our families are complex webs of beautiful, living matter.