Sunday, April 6, 2008

Where are your stories?

It began with the grandfather clock chiming noon, and Mom and Dad sitting on the sofa while I explained my assignment. This was the setting for one of the most powerful telling sessions I ever took part in.

As an undergraduate at York University I was studying with Dr. Carol Carpenter. She had given her students the task of asking our parents how they met. No closed or leading questions and no feeding answers. They were to tell their story. and you as the recorder collect them.

I began by setting them down in the living room in their condo. Tea and chocolates were placed on the coffee table and the sun streamed into the room making it feel more than a little surreal. As one of eight children I had been the first to make the request. Mom and Dad just were. They met, fell in love, and got married. That was our version.

Mom giggled and Dad laughed at the serious way I was approaching this but soon we were in it.
Dad started sharing his experience as a soldier in New Brunwick stationed in Moncton.

"She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Sitting with her friends in a restaurant I was across the room having lunch with another soldier. He laughed at me when I said "I'm going to marry that girl". Dad got back to base and requested a transfer. It took a year but he did get back, spotted who would become my Mom on the street with a group of friends. He introduced himself and within 6 weeks they were married.

That's the magic of familore. It never gets old. And everytime you tell it it gets newer still.

Gail DeVos, Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. Her courses include storytelling and literature for children and YA (young adults). Having recently read Gail's first book Storytelling for Young Adults: Techniques and Treasury I appreciated how this teller made the reader feel the power in themselves to share their stories. More important still , she provides ideas and techniques for new tellers to help others bring forward their stories.

Your family has its own stories. Learn to tell them.