Category Archives: children

Day 16: Narrative

noun – a spoken or written account of connected events; a story

He was blind. He was partially lame. He was weak in body. In most people’s opinions, he didn’t have much to offer in the way of active living. That is unless you sat with him, then the true treasure of the last years of his life came alive. My children would crawl up in his lap and say the magic words, “Granddad Hall, tell me a story.”

And he did. Story after story, he gave his undivided and rapt attention to those little ones that sat with him. He declared their importance through his exciting account of life as a young boy in the hills of Virginia, teenage exploits, and then accompanied each story with the song lyrics from “the old days.” As he spoke and sang, the eyes of my little ones grew big, their laughter rang through the house, and their questions filled the air.

Grandad Hall was never in a hurry to finish a story and get back to his television programming.Granddad Hall never said no to a story or song request. Although he is gone now, his gift of storytelling lingers in my kids’ hearts to this day. His word gift was a simple story given willingly, lovingly, and unselfishly.

Storytelling is a powerful way to make a human connection. Consider the 27.2 billion dollars earned by publishing companies in 2011. People love stories and pay money to hear and read them! Narrative word gifts are wanted, not only that they are needed. Why?  To remind us that today’s way life is not the same as when our parents were kids; it’s not how it’s going to be when our children are adults.  Telling stories preserves our family history and experiences, and it also creates a personal connection with new generations.

Feel like telling stories aloud isn’t your gift? Then write it out. Now the receiver has a piece of family history in their hands. The details won’t be forgotten as they pass the story down to their kids.

In this moment here and now, stop and think. What’s one story from your younger days that you could share with a little one in your life? It doesn’t have to be funny; it doesn’t have to teach a lesson; it doesn’t even have to be true! It only has to cast you as the main character and have a beginning, middle, and end. The faces of your listeners will light up at the thought of a story with you as the hero. And if you’ll pay close attention as you narrate, you’ll see that their heart strings get tied a little tighter to yours.

What’s a story you remember being told as child? It could be a fairy tale or a family member’s childhood exploits? What made it so special?

(Site for Storytelling Help: Benefits of Storytelling)

Day 15: Conceal

verb – 1. keep from sight; hide  2. keep (something) secret; prevent from being known or noticed

One of my favorite moments to share with a friend, my kids, or my husband is the private joke moment.  The moment when only the two of you understand the double meaning of a word or phrase.  We could both be in a crowd of people when this private joke reference makes an appearance, and depending on the situation, we either eye one another slyly, or burst into laughter.  It’s a moment of connection that most often brings laughter. Today, however we are going to apply the secrecy of a private joke to a a word gift, aptly named The Concealed Word Gift.

Many years ago, I had a colleague that I had the privilege of working with for three years.  He was an up and coming teacher working on his master’s degree. While working with him, I discovered several things: he was an outstanding teacher, he was the first to graduate college in his family,   he had an all-consuming dream of earning a doctorate in education, and his family did not understand or celebrate his successes. I watched him work steadily toward this dream as he fought his way through grad school while teaching and coaching full-time. And after three years, it happened: he became a doctoral candidate at a well-known Florida university. However, that meant he had to leave our close-knit group of 8th grade teachers.

Of course, we all wished him well and sent him on his way with some type of gift. Being the meaningful gift-giver, I wanted to give him something that signified that I was big-sister proud of his hard work but also encouraged him to continue to fight for his dream. Thus, became the idea for a concealed word gift.

Since he was working towards his doctorate and most days he would need to wear a shirt and tie, I decide to give him a tie. However, on the inside flap of the tie, I monogrammed his name with the abbreviation Dr. before it. Only he would know it was there every time he wore it. I wanted him to remember that he could achieve his dream no matter what his family did or said.  He could rise above and become exactly who he wanted. Did he do it? YES!  Was it because of the tie? Maybe a tiny bit, but really the reminder of his dream was the importance of the gift.

So how can we incorporate the Concealed Word Gift into our gift-giving repertoire?  First it is important to write or find a phrase or quote that fits the situation. For example, if your child has a big sporting event coming up, you could monogram (or write with a permanent marker) the phrase on a pair of socks, or any other sporting gear. Obviously, the goal is to do it in a concealed place, so it’s a “secret encouragement” for only the wearer. Here’s a short list of possible items to conceal your word gift on:

  • tank tops
  • socks
  • cloth shoes (maybe on the inside arch or on the tongue of the shoe)
  • cloth headband
  • sports clothing (like Under Armor or a sports bra)
  • lining of a jacket
  • bottom hem of a shirt (that gets tucked in)
  • baseball hat (on the inner seam)
  • belt (easily written on the inside with a permanent marker)
  • ties (on the inside)

The power of this gift is the “seeing.” Every time the receiver sees the word or phrase, they are encouraged and in most cases, he/she will stop to think of the giver. It’s the whole private joke idea again, except this time without the laughter.

Can you think of a time when “secret” encouraging words shared by a friend or family member came to memory at  just the right moment and helped you keep going?