Whether they come packaged in celluloid or on paper; whether via satellite or wireless transfer; whether fiction or non; we derive profound pleasure in immersing ourselves in good stories.
Through them we breach the barriers of physics and trek through time and space.
Through them we become brave, wise and worldly.
They teach us, better than a dry lecture. Aesop knew that. Jesus knew that. Shakespeare knew that. L. Frank Baum knew that. George Lucas knew that.
George Lucas? Yes. Around our house, some of our most oft-quoted aphorisms are from Star Wars (the original three movies, of course).
Try. There is no try, only do or do not. – Yoda
Luke, feel the force. – Obi Wan Kenobi
So, it is with great delight that the circularity of life granted us three grandsons who make light saber noises as they chase each other through the house. While taking on the evil Darth Vader, our four-year-old grandson said something we couldn’t quite make out, so we asked him to repeat it. It was: Luke, feel the forest.
Okay, that could work too.
Living so far out of town, our family spent a lot of time in the car; still do. I’m thankful we were in the Pleistocene age of technology when our kids were young, for driving our rural highway while cocooned in fine Corinthian vinyl, especially on star-speckled nights, cultivated the perfect atmosphere for sharing stories – our version of campfire tales.
I don’t remember as much about the stories themselves as the thankful wonder for those treasured times with our boys. Our treasured times with our grandsons take place not in a car, but at the dinner table over Friday night spaghetti. Like their father and uncle before them, they cast their eyes up in contemplation when introduced to new ideas, new characters, new places. With their imaginations in high gear, they implore, “Grandpa, tell us another Alaska bear story.”
As anyone who has ever cuddled up with a book under an afghan knows, the best stories don’t need high definition or slick covers; we have the finest high definition ever created right between our ears.
Some of the greatest stories I ever heard were not from books, but from the people in my life. I am thankful for the opportunity to have been told the stories of my grandparents’ lives right from the source. I am thankful for the times that I remember to shut my mouth and open my ears to the stories of the lives of the people I see often, the people I do not see often enough, and the people I have just met.
When we listen to the stories of others, we connect, at a magical mystical level. And in the listening, we give the greatest gift we can give another, our attention. But, we gain so much more through their personal histories: the sense of shared experience, and the knowledge that we are not alone on this journey.
One of the most powerful things stories can do is honor the memory of our loved ones who are no longer with us. So long as we continue to recount their stories to future generations, we keep them alive.
Our fourth grandson is on his way, some time in early February. And, we fully expect him to be a listener, teller and devotee of stories. We can’t wait for him to join us at the table – his own eyes wide in wonder, as his grandpa tells another Alaska bear story.
Our wish for you this holiday season is that you build your own wonderful magical stories with the people you love, stories that will live on through the ages.