Oral traditions are almost as old as human beings are. Telling stories has been bringing families and communities together for hundreds of generations, and the type of stories we tell, shape our relationships and our realities.
Why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition by sharing a short personal story about someone or something you are thankful for as you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner? Many Americans will be sharing what they are thankful for, but why not expand the moment and the feelings by telling a story? Your story does not have to be long or earth-shattering, just real and heartfelt.
You see, we are much more likely to complain about our lives and the trials and tribulations we face than we are to celebrate the moments that make life and magical and memorable. Yet, our lives are filled with touching tales – small moments or momentous events when something or everything went well or turned-out right or someone reached out to us at just the right time. What better time than Thanksgiving to share simple, sweet, touching tales of who we are and why others matter to us? Here’s a few of mine to get you in the storytelling mood . . .
I often think of Mrs. Grace Weidenthal and how her kindness and support helped me get a women’s group scholarship for “Older Returning Students” (I was 28 at the time!), which led to my finishing college and eventually my Masters.
I will never forget the kindness shared to me as a child by my mother’s friend and one of my younger brothers’ godmothers. When Mrs. Werner brought my brother a gift for his birthday or a holiday, she always made sure to include something smaller, but no less special, for the other siblings closest to his age. A small gesture on her part, but one that filled my heart and head with pleasure and promise! I knew I would be included, and looked forward to her visits with anticipation, not only for her gifts but also to her boisterous and booming voice as she bestowed our treats upon us. She spread joy and generosity with gusto.
I will never forget the help Professor Potteroff at Cuyahoga Community College gave me. Without the time he spent tutoring me, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to finish his Algebra class or to later take, and fall in love with, statistics.
I know sharing tales of positive moments in our lives might take some getting used to or may seem a bit awkward at first, but all great traditions must start somewhere . . .
Here are 5 tips for starting your Thanksgiving storytelling tradition:
- Keep it short.
- Keep it positive! No fair, sharing tales that shine a less than stellar light on anyone – no matter how funny or memorable the tale might be! Besides, sharing your happy moments, increases the odds other will be happier, too. (Happiness is contagious.)
- Suggest a lead-in or place slips of paper with printed lead-ins at everyone’s place or in a basket to pass. (Creating the slips and basket is a great pre-Thanksgiving task for kids. Let them use their creativity on the leads and the method of sharing. If you are short on kids, print them on colored paper and cut them up.)
- “I will never forget . . .”
- “I love(d) it when . . . ”
- “It felt really good when . . .”
- “I was so excited when . . .”
- “I often think of . . . “
- “When I was a kid . . .” – as long as what follows is strictly positive and not shared to teach a lesson or illustrate a point.
- Make sure you or one of the children go first.
- Really listen to what everyone shares and thank them for doing it!
Hopefully, reading this post has already brought good memories to mind and gotten you into the Thanksgiving spirit. If not, no problem, Thanksgiving is more than a week away, so you have plenty of time to think of a thankful tale or two, and to get things ready for your guests to share in your new tradition.