Storytelling Day – A Hilarious Story
Storytelling is a worldwide social and cultural activity – even Jesus taught in parables. Carol Harrison recalls a hilarious story from her past.
Sweden’s National Storytelling Day
Storytelling is a social and cultural activity of sharing stories. There is power in stories. Jesus taught in parables – stories to help the people understand and remember his lessons. We remember stories much quicker than the facts but stories will help us remember the point the speaker is making. But I found out recently that Sweden began a National story telling day in 1991.
My love of storytelling started when I listened to my mom read me Bible Stories. I would also curl up beside my grandfather as he read serialized stories that were printed in the Western Producer paper and the Mennonite Brethren Herald magazine he received. I couldn’t wait for the next episode. By the time I went to school I couldn’t wait to read a story for myself but still enjoyed listening to others tell family stories or listening to the Back to the Bible radio program and the serialized Danny Orlis stories.
Now it is my grandchildren who want to hear the family stories I can tell them. I have even begun to write the stories down for them.
Storytelling in Chicken Soup
Today I want to share one of the stories I told them and then wrote for them which I call Cheerio Parties. I was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Grandmothers book in 2011 which made the grandchildren very excited.
Our tiny house often rang with the laughter and occasional cries of our many grandchildren. They knew where Grandma kept the toys, books and their favourite snacks. The ones old enough to talk proclaimed the big, old rocking chair ad “Grandma’s chair.” They loved to curl up on my lap, often two or three at a time, for hugs and stories.
One day my daughter and her family stopped by. “Mom, will you keep the kids when I go to the hospital for this next baby?”
Without hesitation I replied, “O course I will. No problem. That’s what grandmas are for.”
Several days later, my son and his family came for a visit. He asked, “Mom when it’s time or our next baby’s birth will you keep the other kids please?”
I looked at the calendar. The due dates were about three weeks apart, so without much hesitation I said, “O course I will. Shouldn’t be a problem. That’s what grandmas are for.”
I don’t know what the odds are, but a few weeks later, within hours of each other, both my daughter and daughter-in-law were admitted to the hospital. Seven grandchildren aged one to six arrived at Grandma’s for the promised sleepover, accompanied by what seemed to be a truckload of necessities. Piles of winter clothing littered the floor close to the front door. Bottles and sippy cups competed for room in the fridge. Diapers and clothes were stashed in the spare room while special blankets dragged behind children as they emptied the toy box and bookshelf looking for their favourite things at Grandma’s house.
My youngest daughter surveyed the busy atmosphere and clutter of the house when she arrived home from school. Her face betrayed a mixture of excitement and being overwhelmed. I phoned Grandpa and warmed him of the hopefully imminent birth of not one but two new grandbabies and he arrived home from work with supper in hand.
Bed Routines That Were Not Routine
The evening passed in a blur of activity. Bedtime routines were anything but routine when I needed to change a one-year-old, two two-year- olds and make sure the two three- year-olds went potty before going to bed. There were bottles and sippy cups to refill and lots of little ones all anxious to be cuddled by Grandma in that big, old rocking chair. Finally quiet reigned.
After sleeping lightly, while listening all night for any grandchildren who might need me, I felt less than ready to face the new day when the alarm’s incessant ringing filled my ears. But seven little ones in a tiny house do not sleep through an alarm. Our day began with a rush of activities, Grandpa needed to go to work, Auntie needed to be ready to get on the school bus at 8 am and the five and six year olds would be picked up by Great Grandpa who had been enlisted as taxi driver for their ride to school Hungry children demanded breakfast. I grabbed the Cheerio box from the cupboard knowing they could feed themselves this finger food. Sippy cups of milk were spill- proof – well almost anyway. I started making school lunches while urging the older ones to hurry.
A Whirlwind in the House
Auntie grabbed the last couple of bites of breakfast and shoved them in her mouth to hunt for her parka and boots. She grabbed her stuff and rushed out the front door to the waiting school bus. Great- grandpa arrived early. I left the five littlest ones in various stages of sogginess and mess to help the older ones sort through the pile of mittens, hats, scarves and parkas to find the matching sets. I knew they had arrived with yesterday. Quickly running a comb through their hair and doing a cursory check of backpacks, I helped them bundle up to face the frigid winter weather By the time they left for school the clock only read 8:30. I felt like a whirlwind had gone through the house. As I glanced around I noticed it looked that way as well.
I took time to put away the milk and stack the dishes into the sink for later. Five little ones needed changing, clothes on and their hair brushed. While changing the diapers and Pullups I noticed that something – a diaper, sippy cup or bottle – had leaked during the night. I pulled the sheet from the bed to throw in the wash and quickly grabbed a clean sheet from the cupboard. Might as well get it ready for naptime, as if anyone would want a nap other than Grandma. Finally, I threaded my way through grandchildren, scattered toys and diaper bags to sit down for a moment or two. I smiled as I watch these precious little ones play contentedly side by side on the living room floor. I grabbed the ever present camera and captured this priceless moment to share with their parents. Peace and quiet, at least for a moment or two filled the house. I took advantage of it for a quick bathroom break of my own.
The Silence That Spells Trouble
I shut the door. Within seconds silence greeted me with the intensity that could only spell trouble. No one called for me or demanded their turn for the bathroom No sounds of fighting, crying or even playing noises sounded from the other side of the door. I quickly washed my hand and dried them as I opened the door, wondering what disaster would greet me. Abandoned toys littered the floor of the living room but no one of the five grandchildren could be seen.
In the spare room I saw my three-year-old grandson squeezed into the now empty little toy box. With his cousin’s little Mickey Mouse hat perched on top of his head like a crown, he surveyed the kingdom of toys spread before him. When he looked up at me a grin lit up his entire face. Being a dutiful grandma I smiled, grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos before searching for my granddaughters.
Camera still in hand, I headed to the only other place they could be – the kitchen. The three-year-old ad two two-year old girls sat nicely on chairs at the kitchen table. The one-year-old with mischief glinting in her yes, stood in the middle of the table. She reached into the Cheerio box that I had forgotten to put away and placed handfuls of cereal in front of the others before feeding herself. She looked up wand a huge smile wreathed her face. Being a dutiful grandma I smiled and snapped a few photos prior to rescuing her off the table. None of them were too impressed when Grandma spoilt their Cheerio party putting the box of cereal away
The grandchildren stayed for a couple more days before those new babies arrived and were ready to go home. My house rang with laughter and an occasional tired cry. Looking after the grandchildren’s practical needs was interspersed with lots of cuddles and story times in the big old rocking chair. We even had time for more Cheerio parties, Grandma’s way. It all added to making memories together the way grandmas and grandchildren do.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Now I challenge you to remember a story and then tell it to the next generation.
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.
Visit Carol’s website carolscorner.ca
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