red hair

“Where did you get that red hair?”

My brother and I heard the question over and over growing up, since we sported identical shades of dark red hair–mine curly, his anything but.

“From both sides of the family,” we’d explain. We had three great grandpas with red hair, only one of whom we ever knew. Great Grandpa Roberts didn’t have any hair left by the time we were sitting at his feet, listening to stories while he cracked walnuts and smoked a pipe. But in his younger days, he’d been known as “Red Roberts”.

“When red headed people are above a certain social grade their hair is auburn.”
-Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

My brother called our hair “the color of a year-old penny”. It was always more copper red than carrot red. And now, age has darkened it to that “handsome auburn” Anne Shirley coveted. So much so that not everyone even thinks of me as a redhead anymore.

“There is so much more to being a redhead than the color of one’s hair.”
G. Adam Stanislav

I never minded being a redhead, but I think it was my beloved Anne of Green Gables that taught me to love it. I read the series by L. M. Montgomery when I was seven years old, and couldn’t have been prouder to be wearing the freckles and carrot-colored hair of the heroine. Even if it meant guilt by association with a quick temper.

“Please just call me red-headed and forgive me.”
-Anne to Gilbert in Anne’s House of Dreams

We’re in the minority, we redheads are. And the brunt of almost as many jokes as blondes.

“I would always hesitate to recommend as a life’s companion a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair. Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.”
-Jeeves in Very Good, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

But despite warnings from wits like Wodehouse, literature and the silver screen have continued to write redheads into many a happily ever after. Sean Thornton loved Mary Kate Danaher in “The Quiet Man” (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara). The Swamp Angel loved Freckles. Charlie Brown was always in love with the mysterious “little red-haired girl”. And Gilbert loved Carrots, his Anne-Girl.

“When a fellow has a home and a dear, little, red-haired wife in it what more need he ask of life?”
-Gilbert in Anne’s House of Dreams

So we hold our red heads a little higher, as the red thread continues to wind through generations of our own real life love stories. Sometimes that redhead gene skips a generation or two, but considering the number of redheaded grandchildren and great grandchildren my great grandpa “Red” had, we’re not extinct yet.

Five Minute Friday Writing Prompt: “red

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14 Comments

  1. I loved reading this because my best friend is a lovely red head named Jenna. And I have always wished for a red headed child, despite the fact that I only seem to have blondes (which I love…I am a blonde) but when I see a scarlet headed child I am mesmerized and I loved your reference to the Quiet man! I love that classic!

  2. i enjoyed your post on red hair gretchen:) and the quotes were great:) with all the reds on both sides of our family…darker auburn on my mom’s side and strawberry blonde to carrot red on my husband’s side…i had hopes of having one red and at least one red grand. seems that didn’t happen. maybe the next generation:)

    1. Thank you, Martha! It’s funny, isn’t it, how the red hair gets distributed? My brother and I were the only ones of 11 cousins with red hair, though one or two others had red highlights. My dad had several redheaded cousins, however, and they each ended up with a few redheads, too. You can hold out for the great grands!

  3. Hi Gretchen, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now. And I met you at Allume last year, but I didn’t introduce myself, just because I’m strange like that:) Just shy. But I always thought you were a red head from your pictures, but when I met you, I thought your hair looked more brown. Maybe it was the lighting in the hotel, but I was quite surprised. Anyway, I am a huge Anne of Green Gables fan. I’ve loved her since I was a little girl and just re-read the first book a couple of months ago. She always made me wish I had red hair, even with her hatred of it 馃檪 Anyway, just wanted you to know that I always love reading your words and think of you as someone with a wise, close walk with the Lord. Thanks for writing.

    1. Hey Jacqui! Well Allume certainly showed me that I’m more of an introvert than I thought. 馃槈 But “hi” to you now! 馃檪

      And yes, you weren’t the only one at Allume who was surprised by my hair color. It’s definitely much more red in natural sunlight. But it’s not near as red as it was in my childhood. Or near as red as I picture it in my mind’s eye. 馃槈

      Thank you so much for commenting.

  4. Gretchen,

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story and wit. I loved the quotes and insights about having red hair. I am glad to hear you have embraced your red hair and the attention it brings. As you’ve discovered, you’re in good company.

    Well, thanks again…blessings!

    Rose