Snow Sunday: Tell A Story
If there is no new snow, and I haven’t had too much wine Friday night, I often begin my Saturday morning at Erin Gehrke’s hot, weighted, yoga class at Studio E. She keeps the “kumbaya” portion brief and instead pours her energy into kicking your ass. But at the end of class, she will read an excerpt from a poem or text or give her sagacious yogi advice.
Before New Year’s she ended by talking about resolutions. And she advised not to make some lame resolution like “I’m going to lose 10 pounds” but to do something real. She encouraged the class to think about something they could do that was “deeper than that.”
To be honest, I’m not a huge New Year’s resolutions person. I put my foot in my mouth so many times in one day, that I’m more of the daily resolution type. But since it is the New Year, why not think about something deeper than losing 10 pounds? So, I did. I wondered, what was a resolution that wasn’t on the same old list: workout regularly, drink less, be more patient, save more money?
I reflected a little on the holidays and tried to capture what it was that was most enjoyable. How could I carry that holiday joy into my daily life? Two moments stuck out: My mother’s 70th birthday party right before Christmas and my husband’s 40th right after. And it wasn’t the parties that I remembered or wanted to keep with me, but the stories that were told at each.
At both gatherings, friends and family members took time to tell stories. These were not the scripted, timed, wedding toasts of our younger years, where the words had to be audience and occasion appropriate (but often weren’t). Instead, they were impromptu stories that were told over the course of a three-hour dinner in a private room at La Marmotte and in a circle standing around a kitchen. When one story ended, the participants waited patiently for the next to begin. And, when the last was told, the group stayed intact, hoping for another like they were waiting for the last encore of a great show.
I had heard many of the stories before, but from a different narrator, a different perspective, usually from my mom or husband. Now I was hearing the lore from one of their accomplices. My mom’s friends told of hiking with her in Nepal, skiing with her at age 70, and told many of her one-liners. My husband’s friends spoke of his loyalty, which translated into the sacrifices he made for his friends: taking a last powder run with them, staying out until the very end of the night, and even taking on the police – all in the name of friendship.
I told a few stories the extended group might not have known — family legends I didn’t even remember nor even knew if were true, but had heard so many times that they had become part of our family history. One has my brother, sister and me on a road trip driving with our single mom to Telluride from Michigan for Christmas. When we began questioning if we would ever get there the response, and I quote, was, “We’re going to strap that Christmas tree on top of the car and baby wherever we land, that’s where we’ll have Christmas.” The stories continued with Santa giving me coal for Christmas and my mom moving to Telluride in the early ‘80’s, then showing up to a land deal with $20,000 cash. Not a cashier’s check. I asked. It resulted in the construction of the house I grew up in and the one she still lives in next to the cemetery.
Reflecting on these holidays, it will not only be the stories, but the occasion of telling them that I will remember most. So my “real” New Year’s resolution is to not only tell stories, but listen to more.
If I follow Erin’s advice, I’ll be a happy, fat story collector.
Tags: birthdays, celebration, gatherings, holidays, skiing, stories, telluride, winter, yoga