National Family Stories Month
by Dr. Vivian Blevins And then
(Pass those stories on)
Remember the time Grandpa decided to repair the plumbing and flooded the house? Or that time when Uncle Bill came home on leave and …?
We all have family stories and they serve to bind the family together, to preserve family history, and to open up conversations and connections when we haven’t seen a family member in a few years.
With today’s technology, you can interview family members and opt to post a YouTube video as well as sit down at your computer and get your annual holiday letter ready. And instead of bragging about promotions earned, touchdowns scored, and trips taken, encourage families to share their stories in their letters and include copies of old photos.
November is National Family Stories Month, and to get you started, I’ll share a few of my own. The first comes from my oldest sister Frances who was more like a sister to our mother than a daughter. It was New Year’s Day, and mother and daddy were watching the Polar Bear plunges on television. This was some time after all their children had graduated from college, married, and left the Toledo, Ohio, area. Daddy remarked, “Who in the world would be crazy enough to jump naked in ice cold water?” Mother promptly said, “I would.” She began to disrobe, totally except for her shoes, went out on the front porch, which was covered with ice and snow, and danced in the moonlight. No, she did not get a cold, not even a sniffle.
We still laugh about Jack, carrying a chain saw and more- than-slightly drunk, falling out of a 30-foot tree. He proudly reports, “At the hospital, they had to put the paddle to me twice.” He did, however, lose his spleen, not vital for human survival. He’s been sober now for over five and one-half years and knows his days of climbing trees are over.
And I must tell one of my own. I was pregnant with Quentin, teaching at Urbana College, and using a rubber band to expand the waist on my skirt (Try it. It does work). The rubber band broke and my skirt descended to my ankles. That was back in the day when I still wore a slip so no harm, no foul — just my very red face. I still hear someone in the class humming stripper music.
It’s a short column this week, deliberately so, as I want you to write or tell your own stories this month as we move into the Thanksgiving season. Think about recipes that worked, or didn’t; crazy preachers; love relationships; coal mining stories; bootleggers; whatever. And I could, but I won’t, tell you about the teacher who when there was a fire at Cumberland Elementary School, grabbed her coat and pocketbook and screamed, “Run, children, run.”
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