Over the next couple of issues we will discuss the art of storytelling and the gift of cheer it brings to all who experience it. When I was in high school my main performances were in storytelling when we competed in speech, debate and drama. I always won story telling at the state level. One of my nieces followed in my tracks. Our family loves to tell stories of all types. So it is something I grew up with; I read to my siblings to get them to take naps.
When my son was little he use to go to my brothers and say…”tell me old fashion stories about Mom when she was little….” He always loved the yarns they would knit for him. Sadly they were usually NOT fiction!
Whenever I went to local fairs I’d try to find the storytellers and I could listen for hours. I appreciated the old men that sat in front of the barber shop and told mountain tales. I appreciated the grandmothers and grandfathers that kept family stories alive. Growing up, we used to listen to family members share stories. Some stories were imaginative or funny, while others were more repetitive.
Nevertheless, hearing accounts of how our family experienced life before our generation was a form of bonding. I believe it had a large part in shaping our roots. I especially loved the stories my father and his brothers use to tell of family idiosyncrasies. They were hilarious and never dull.
A lot of those stories were tied to my sense of identity. Dad was particularly humorous and sarcastic in his delivery. He and the brothers would get out the olive jar and wine and begin the stories and arguments on the accuracy of each others account of a story. Always funny and enlightening. Any story they told was to give you better context to understand the world around us in context to our family.
Exchanging stories with anyone is not a useless pastime. Research published on Family Life shows that people’s knowledge of their family historycan be attributed to higher self-esteem, lower anxiety, stronger familial relationships, and a better sense of self over one’s lifetime.
Furthermore, internalized family narratives can influence one’s sense of individuality.
Research further shows that the idea that an individual’s stories about one’s life should be regarded as essential to one’s self growth.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss style and delivery and the healing power of storytelling.