A Time for Stories

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

~The holiday season is such a great time for families to get together and share stories – some old and heard dozens of times and some others new and never heard before. Here my little granddaughter is sharing one of the never heard before stories. She’s been making up stories since before she was two, so maybe someday she’ll be like her grammy and want to write them down. I don’t remember ever telling too many stories back when I was a kid. I would have been much too shy to take center stage like that.
~Several of my grandchildren show a flair for the dramatic and they all love stories and books. The littlest ones just want to chew on their books, but that will change when they realize there’s magic in those words.
~There’s magic in family stories too. I love to hear my mom talk about how things were when she grew up during the depression years. Her mama never put up a Christmas tree and so their presents were placed on a rocking chair. Nothing like the presents kids get these days. She said they’d maybe get a doll, an orange and some candy. Then when I was a kid, we did our Santa shopping in the “wish book.” That’s what we called the Sears Roebuck catalogue. We were given an amount and then we could mark what we wished for that was at or below that price. I remember almost wearing out the pages of those catalogues wishing. One toy I wished for and got from Santa was a Betsy Wetsy doll. Why in the world anyone would want a doll that wet, I don’t know now, but I wanted it then. I also got paper dolls and games and chocolate candy that I hoarded like it was more valuable than gold. My kids have their own Christmas memories of getting up early and running to see what might be under the tree. And now my grandkids are making their Christmas memories that they may turn into family stories someday.
~To me that’s the sort of thing that makes the best family stories. Memories of the little things in life that can forever warm your heart. One of those warm heart memories for me is how I spent Christmas Eve day at my aunt’s house waiting for my mother and father to finally get there so the good times could begin. The tree lights would be blinking. Sparks would fly up the chimney when my granddad poked the coal in the fireplace. Brightly wrapped presents beckoned from under the tree. Delicious scents drifted out from the kitchen. The candy dishes were full of homemade goodies. The afternoon would drag along, surely the longest day of the year. But finally my parents would come in bringing with them the brisk smell of the winter air and then the magic of Christmas would begin.
~Now I wish I had been smart enough to ask the older members of my family to tell me more stories about when they were growing up. About their average, ordinary days and what their mothers and fathers or grandmothers and grandfathers were like. Some of the stories I heard. Many of the stories I can only imagine now. And yet all of that, the real and the imagined is stuffed down in a pot pushed to the back of the stove in my creative center where it’s bubbling in a nice simmering stew. Ever so often something in that pot pops out and lands in a story. That’s why, for a writer, the more stories she hears the better. That pot of creative stew is very greedy and constantly in need of being fed if you want it to keep popping. Sort of like that Betsy Wetsy doll I had. I had to keep pumping in the water if I wanted her to perform as promised in the advertisements.
~Hope your creative stew gets fed some wonderful family memories and stories this Christmas holiday.