Monday, September 7, 2009

Living "Story-Worthy" Lives

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. - Deuteronomy 4:9

When the nieces and nephews were very young, story-time with "Aunt 'Bekah" was always the after-bath-and-brushed-teeth treat before settling down for the night. "Can we read a story on the most-comfortable-bed-in-the-world," they'd say, then race to the book shelf to pull something wondrous from our most excellent library of children's classics.

Now they range (this particular set) from six to 14 but - as you can see from the picture - no-one is quite ready to let go of the ritual yet. Sarah, the youngest, typically gets to pick out the story, but there's not a one of them close to suggesting they're too old for story-time, with Aunt 'Bekah, on the most comfortable bed in the world.

Of course, story-time is by no means limited to the content of a picture book, or two. The children are always interested in hearing adventures that include their dad and their aunts and uncles.

There are the old favorites they love to hear over and over:
  • Such as the time uncle Joe blew up a large retaining wall by pouring gasoline in the cracks to force out the ants so he could smash them with a hammer. The plan worked just fine until the wall became saturated with gas and the hammering inevitably generated a spark!
  • Or the time their dad's experiment with home-made explosions (yes, there's a theme here) literally melted the front of his prescription glasses and he tried to walk past his parents - with a bright red face and huge raccoon circles around his eyes - as if nothing had happened.
There's a connection and a depth of relationship that forms via family stories that can't be achieved any other way; huddled up together on the bed, or the sofa, or around the table after a meal.

We pull out photographs and share stories about relatives they barely remember or they never knew. We point to a grouping and ask, "Who knows who this is?" Then fill in the details. Uncle Pete - their great-uncle, who died in WW2, after his boat was torpedoed in the North Atlantic. Grandma Nell, pictured sitting on the knee of a Civil War veteran in the ancient photo on the trunk. John Duncan who didn't steal a horse (the story behind that fact is awesome) and the unfortunate Tennessee woman who did (her story is very sad)....

Here's a thought. Consider this when you have time to spend with your own children (whatever age), your nieces and nephews, your spouse, or an elderly relative.... Are the things we invest our time in story-worthy? Might this occasion, or visit, or excursion, or day around the house, ever be retold on someone's "most comfortable bed in the world"? Or when your picture is sitting on some shelf thirty years hence?

Are we living "story-worthy" lives?


Naomi said...

I wish I could have been there! I LOVE hearing about my Uncles blowing themselves up!! :-) Miss you all!!

Faith said...

Oh my must just be theme with the neices and nephews because I remember begging you and Aunt Bekah for just "one more story" when ya'll were tucking us in...about your super mean elemetary school teachers or Aunt Bekah's adventures with mom....awww, I wanna be little again! :)