**I thought I had made up a new word here. I love this word. However, unbeknownst to me, someone else made this word up, and it was for something else really cool. But I still like this usage.**
Many of you will be gathering with family and friends tomorrow. It may be just the usual crew who sit down together tomorrow, or it may be a group too big for the one table, that spills onto couches and ottomans and the floor, plates in hand. Whatever it is, it's time for a story.
You don't have to turn the TV off if you don't want to. Halftime is good for a story, too. The parades have lots of commercial breaks. Head to the kitchen when one of those happens. Stand around and pick at the pie left in the dish. Offer a spray of whipped cream to the waiting, laughing mouths of children around you, and let a story roll off your tongue.
You can start like this, "Oh man. Remember when Cousin Mike. . . "
Or like this, "Now when your grandpa was a little girl..." my wickedly funny, tee-totalling baptist grandma loved this one.
You could just jump right in, in media res: "So, there we were in the middle of Dresden/Decorah/Donnegal, and I had no idea what to do."
Tell a story. Tell it to your little cousins, your aunt SueAnn, your sister's new boyfriend -- the one your parents hate, your brother's ex who still comes for holidays. Tell your son, your mom.
And then, listen. Invite their stories. "Did that ever happen to you? I'll bet you never saw one like that! Can you even believe it?"
Give a story.
In the quiet of the evening, when sandwiches have been assembled and eaten, and the nice new guy in your department, the one whom you invited offhandedly at the end of a meeting, the one who showed up and handed over a bag of King's Hawaiian rolls or a can of sweet potatoes, when he asks about the weird dessert your family has always had, tell him the story. Invite him into your secret family club.
That's what stories do; they tie us together. They give us passwords and codes to share.
And if you are the new guy, if you are the guest? Bring a story. Offer it like a shiny hostess gift. Lasts longer than flowers, and it makes you more human to one another. Tell your story, and listen to the stories that come crowding in, hanging on your story's shirttails like tagalong kid brothers.
At bedtime, pull your little ones, or your loved one, close to you, and whisper, "Once upon a time..." Don't worry about what story it will be. Let the story come to you and be told.
Storygiving. It's part of the meaning of these feasts. Feast one another with words; regale one another.
Happy Storygiving. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading. Thanks for telling.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.