Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tell Us A Story!

Our family usually eats dinner together. I really do enjoy that time even though it is almost guaranteed that someone will complain about what we are having, and there is also a pretty good chance that at least one child will gag while trying to "at least taste" some truly disgusting food - like mashed potatoes. Where did I get these children? I could eat mashed potatoes every day of my life and die a happy woman.

Anyway, supper time at our house is fairly lively and never quiet. We had a friend and his son (who is an only child) come eat with us, and they just sat and watched everything with wide-eyed wonder, and proclaimed, "This is better than dinner and a movie." Thanks, we do what we can to entertain the masses. It's not hard. Well, sometime a while back the kids asked us to tell them a story about when we were little, and so we did, and a tradition was unintentionally born.

Now, I have to tell you that I love a good story, and I realize there is an art to telling it right. I've grown up in a family of storytellers. We used to go to my Grandmother's house at least once a month and have Sunday dinner with all our extended family. And the grown-up table was always full of stories and laughter. As I got a little older, I would sometimes even forego playing with my cousins to sit and listen to the stories. I loved them, and I learned how to tell a good story. A good story does not include just the facts, you've got to add in what you were thinking and feeling and what everyone's reactions were, what made it funny or sad, what makes it something to remember. I remember when something would happen to me, I'd think, I've got to remember this to tell it at Grandmother's house.

Steve told me early on that he would never want to do my grandparent's funerals - too much pressure to tell the stories just the right way! I laughed at him, but he was absolutely right. Whenever there was a story to tell about our life, he might start out telling it, but I usually couldn't help myself, and I'd start interjecting things until he would finally say, "Why don't you just tell the story?" But I've got to say, that hasn't happened in a while - I think I'm starting to rub off on him. And at my grandparents' funerals, I bullied my cousins into getting up there with me and telling the stories ourselves, and I'm so glad we did. It would have been very inappropriate for me to start interjecting things into the stories from my pew at the church, but I just don't know if I could've sat still and listened to someone else mess up the stories!

But anyway, back to our supper table. So, our kids want us to tell our stories. And this is fun, and the kids get a chance to know about us as kids. But when you do this night after night, you start to run out of stories to tell! I didn't think it was possible, but apparently it is. So, last night I had an idea. We would tell a story after they told a story. They can tell a story from school or one of their favorite memories, and then we tell a story. I like this. As a bonus, if one of them tells a story, they all want a turn, and so we can get by with only telling one story a night. And Lily's stories almost always start out as "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess..." and the boys groan. And Joey's stories start and end with "Um, um, um..." this can go on for several minutes, but he is highly offended if you try to interrupt him. He has the floor, and he intends to keep it!

But Levi's stories are starting to have hints of the humor that we can all appreciate. He's starting to know when something would be appreciated by us all, and it is a tiny little glimpse into the person he will become. And I like it, and it makes me sad all at the same time. They are growing up before my eyes. And so the tradition carries on. I hope we raise four storytellers so someday when they come home, our table is filled with laughter and stories and shared memories. So, don't be surprised if you come over to our house to eat, and you are asked to tell us a story about when you were little. We need some new material!

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