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Family Togetherness: A Tradition of Storytellers

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I met the Bogarts when I was teenager. I took dance classes at the same ballet studio as Mrs. Bogart. Mr. Bogart was a music producer and Christian music artist. They lived in a vintage home a few streets from my house, making it convenient for both them and myself on the nights they asked me to babysit. They had two children, Sammy and Alex (3 and 2), who I adored immensely. The children loved to watch the “Sammy and Alex” home videos. And so after our adventurous excursions outdoors we would clean up and then sit down to enjoy theĀ  life of Sammy and Alex.

I love to pick through photos. I read a book once about a girl who loved to collect old photographs. She enjoyed imagining a story behind the photo. Creating a life for an unknown character, as an author would when writing a book. Stories give us courage, hope, a place to escape, a reason to weep. Family stories told through the generations create ties that bind each generation to the next.

Several years back I took on the task of creating a family cookbook. The preface of the cookbook told the story of how my Grandparents met, married and ended with the courting and marriage of my parents. I loved hearing the tantalizing tale of my Grandparents riding off into the sunset on my Granddad’s motorcycle to elope. As a parent, I can see why the elopement was only mentioned once or twice. Maybe my mom did not want to give us any ideas. But for my mom to hold out on her own love story is an injustice to all hopelessly romantic teenagers.

At family gatherings we always had to bring up my playing in the motor oil in my Uncle JK’s barn. I was five years old. Hey it looked like mud and I oh so loved playing in mud. (I can’t get my kids near the stuff) My Aunt Ruth was great for stories. She told so many stories of her life growing up and about my dad I felt like I was there. Stories are so much fun, well unless you were the one they were laughing at in the story. Still, I doubt a young man has lost his girlfriend because a loving mother revealed his naked baby pictures or told his intended he used to shoot peas out of his nose.

Many of us replay our daily stories to our spouses or even perhaps our friends. But you know who would love to hear how about the day they came home from the hospital or the first time they laughed or the day they sprinkled fairy dust all over the kitchen or that Grammy went sky diving when she was young. Things we may think are unimportant even boring to us are fascinating to a kid. To a child stories give them a sense of where they belong. They love to see themselves coo as a baby and hear about the adventures they created as a preschooler. Teenagers love to hear about the lives their parents lead. It makes them seem human.

I have the worst memory but every night I try to remember some part of years past to tell the kids at their bedside. My kids remind me of my two friends Sammy and Alex every time they beg me to tell them another baby story. Reminiscing has reminded me of all the fun and happy times we have had together. Sometimes that has a way of getting lost in a hectic life. Stories are another fun topic at dinnertime, while we are playing games as a family and at family reunions.

A tradition of telling our stories will bring us closer together as a family. We learn to laugh at the embarrassments and share a common inside joke. Keep a written record to give the kids when they are older. They will enjoy looking back at all the mishaps and sillies of childhood.