Bedtime Stories

September 17, 2010

In lieu of stories from books, we told childhood tales to our grandson before we tucked him in bed. I made the first suggestion to my husband:

“Gary, tell Sebastian about Aunt Evelyn and the gingerbread.”

“There’s not much to tell.”

“Just tell him.”

So he told Sebastian about holiday trips to his aunt and uncle’s house. How Aunt Evelyn would give each kid his or her own lump of gingerbread and a baking sheet. How each kid would form a gingerbread person and decorate it with candies and raisins. How, after baking, the kids could then eat their creations, but usually wanted to share them with their parents. Sebastian was wide-eyed and smiling.

Gary said, “Tell him about when you  and your family used to go camping.”

I proceeded to tell the five-year-old about the time my dad decided, while we were camping, to fix the rot in the camper. How Dad ripped the pop-out section off and it rained non-stop for our entire stay. How we were miserable, and how my friend and I almost got struck by lightning. My story ended—THUD. Sebastian was wide-eyed. Gary was smiling and shaking his head.

“Um… oops,” I said. “Tell him about the pillow.”

Gary told about the time when he was about Sebastian’s age and his family stayed at a cottage. How sleeping arrangements were cramped. How they tucked little Gary in, but moved him under a bed after he was asleep. How they took his pillow for someone else, and he woke up not knowing where he was. How he bumped his head first on the floor and then the underside of the bed. How a grownup came when he cried, and asked him what was wrong. How he yelled out, “What do you think anyhow? I ain’t got no pillow!” Sebastian couldn’t stop laughing.

Gary said: “Tell about the plays in your backyard.”

I told Sebastian how my sister made up very dramatic costume dramas and always gave me the crappy roles. I told him, in one particular play, I wanted to be cast as the princess, but I was cast as the witch instead. I even went and got a picture to prove it. There I was in the background, cloaked in black and pouting. THUD

“Well,” I said, ” the princess was really a pretty boring character. All she got to do was scream and faint.”

A nice thing… while perspective shows a bump on the head to be a laughable moment, it also makes us realize that the witch really is the meatier role.


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6 Responses to “Bedtime Stories”

  1. Geoff Woollacott said

    It also passes along family knowledge that can be good. My dad would tell “Make up stories” out of fantasy with my input. Problem came when I would ask for the same story and he would leave things out or interject new ones. 🙂

  2. Totally reinforces my belief that our children would far rather hear the personal. In losing our storytelling voices, we are losing so much more.

    Video cameras and scrapbooks do not make family history.

    We do.

  3. Mary-Ellen said

    When the girls were little reading a book for a bedtime story was always followed by an inevitable “tell me a story about when you were little”. We would share funny little things about our childhood and life as a little or big sister or brother. there are stories we told that seemed to take on a life of their own. Now as teens, every now and then one will say “tell me the pig story” or “tell me about the time….”. It is the oral history of our childhoods.

  4. I love these kind of stories. What a great way to share the family history and give Sebastian a sense of his roots.

    As Lorraine said, we are losing our storytelling voices. We’ve handed them over to Hollywood, and it’s just not the same.

  5. I love this, Sarah. I think of all the things passed down from my mom–all the personal story, all the songs and poems that were in the family for generations. With all the hubbub today, things get lost. I’m glad some people remember.

  6. OwlSaysWho said

    My Grandad did that with us all the time . . . we had particular favorites that we could request, and sometimes, he’d even remember something we’d never heard before. What a great tradition!

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