Ever since my childhood, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. It was a time for us all to come together to share stories and connect. I recall my mother spending several weeks preparing for the festivities.
What each of us remembers about our childhoods has always been a subject of fascination to me, in the sense that even those raised in the same home with the same experiences will recall different aspects of what transpired.
For example, when I was young, my cousins joined us each year for our Thanksgiving dinner celebration. Once we giggled talking about traditions and how one cousin did not recall what I so vividly remember and that is the chocolate turkeys my mother placed in front of every dinner plate.
Those treats were our rewards for eating our meals. I continued the same ritual when my own children were young and, now that they’re grown and have families of their own to consider, there’s a strong probability I’ll continue the tradition with my grandchildren.
One of the things I love about holidays such as Thanksgiving is how they tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. In this highly technological age, it seems as if we’re more connected digitally instead. Coming together as families also offers the opportunity to share stories face to face.
Some individuals are better at remembering and sharing than others. In many cultures, one individual is often intuitively designated as the storyteller of the group. Healers are very often storytellers because we learn how to navigate our own lives by listening to the stories of people navigating theirs.
When we get down to it, we can say that life is really all about story and stories about the human experience. The holidays seem like an ideal time for family and friends to share stories, since they unite us as families and as humans.
Storytelling is a form of healing, since hearing and reading stories brings a dimension to our lives that helps and guides us. When telling stories, we’re able to share from our first-person perspective.
The best stories – whether in spoken or written form – have characters, conflicts, and resolutions. The same characters, like those in our lives, experience a variety of emotions, including joy and pain, comedy and drama. And often, a little bit of mystery and adventure is also thrown in.
This Thanksgiving, perhaps we can all make an effort to share stories and engage in mindful listening. Doing so serves as a reminder of our interconnectedness with others. Stories teach us lessons that help facilitate change, growth, and transformation, which can be very powerful.
Some years ago, I hired an assistant who told me she loved hearing her grandmother’s stories, but she did not know what questions to ask so that she could get to understand her grandmother’s life story. Her comment sparked a clever idea in me: I’ve since created Conversation Cards for Meaningful Storytelling, which are a great addition to the Thanksgiving table.
Additionally, here’s a fun holiday activity: share a story in the first person, then have someone else repeat it back in the third person. This is an interesting way to spin stories and help us make sense of our lives and helps to contribute to active listening.
What do you do around the Thanksgiving table? Does storytelling take part of your holidays? Who is the best storyteller in your family? What story would you like to share this year?