This Friday, November, 21, 2014, is the National Day of Listening sponsored by StoryCorps and is a perfect time to start. Continue it on Thanksgiving and you’ll gather an even bigger trove of treasure.
My grandmother’s stories were like a song catalogue. And she took requests. Someone would ask, “Grammy, tell the one about…” She’d glance around, and smack her lips into a wide O-shaped smile.
Grammy used a firm “Well” in place of Once upon a time. Soon we’d hear the one about crawling on her hands and knees up the long hill to get home (at age seventy-five) after a hair appointment. Grammy’s inimitable style was part of the storytelling and included succinct descriptions with perfect timing.
The only time anyone recorded her was the day she lay down on the floor at a big family party, a tour de force for someone in their eighties. The word passed like wildfire: Clare’s on the floor! Guests produced video cameras to record the event. While it was hilarious to see, it was her voice and style that gave it unforgettable flavor.
StoryCorps reminds us that all families have storytellers like Grammy. You can choose your questions to suit your storyteller or the conversation. It’s vital to record their stories—using audio or video–because nothing speaks across generations than hearing the stories we love told again and again.