The Power of Storytelling

by Melanie Edwards on January 27, 2012 · 13 comments

in life

My mother with family in New York

Whenever my family gets together, inevitably stories of the past come up. My parents, their siblings, and friends love to reminisce about their younger years. It’s common to hear childhood tales of my mother and her sisters walking home from school through the narrow streets in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and the people they’d run into. Or perhaps it’s my father sharing with us yet again how his father would take him along to work at Ramey Air Force Base and they’d listen to music together as my abuelo pressed the clothes. According to my dad, this is why he came to love music so much.

Regardless of what story is being shared, one thing remains constant. The joy on my parents’ face as they retell their memories is sure to bring you joy as well. Watching them and listening to their stories always made for an interesting evening. Even when they shared the sadder stories, like when I learned that my mom ate sopa de pan (breadcrumbs in broth) one too many times as a child, they still did so with excitement, nostalgia, and joy. They love to pass on their memories and personally, it gives me a lot of insight into our family’s history.

I still love to hear my parents tell their stories and occasionally ask them to share ones I have already heard many times. Each time, some small new detail they forgot to mention before comes to light. Hearing these stories provides a glimpse into what my parents were like as children and why they are the way they are today.

Quinceañero Puertorriqueño Latino - Puerto Rican Sweet Fifteen PartyI suppose the same can be said for my husband and I. Nowadays, we find ourselves reminiscing on those early days before we got married – before the kids and hectic life we lead today. Our daughter seems to enjoy hearing our stories just as I enjoy my parents’. She will often ask us about our childhood or the time before she was born. “When you were little, did abuela read you bedtime stories?” she once asked. When I shared with her about the Quinceañero tradition and the party I had when I turned fifteen, she loved hearing all about it and looking at the photos in my album. It’s fun to see her take so much interest in the past and makes me want to share more.

Our baby girl shares her own stories too. Hers may not always be true, since she often makes up stories and plays pretend, but they are her stories nevertheless. And with her as a storyteller, you truly become immersed in the story. She gives lots of details and will sometimes act out what she’s saying. I suppose one day she’ll be sharing stories of her childhood with her own children.

Storytelling is what keeps things going in many ways. If you think about it, that is how we keep traditions alive and it was the only way of sharing history before we had books. By telling stories, we connect, we inform, we relate. That’s a lot of power for simply sharing what once was.

Do you enjoy sharing or listening to stories? What’s a favorite family story you love to hear?

Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion

Disclosure: This story is sponsored by Hallmark through their Life is a Special Occasion campaign. As always, all stories and opinions are my own.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz Thompson January 27, 2012 at 10:11 am

I also come from a long line of storytellers and, considering most of my family lives overseas, has been an awesome way for my kids to learn a little more about their heritage.  Great post!

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Kristen January 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

My mom has a blog (she’s almost 80) and I love reading the stories from her childhood. Storytelling is such an important part of life… keep the stories coming!

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Liz C. January 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm

My mom is the storyteller in our familia.  (:  Great post, Melanie!

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AutismWonderland January 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I loved this post!  Reminded me so much of the childhood stories I heard growing up. 

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Jessica @FoundtheMarbles January 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm

We didn’t hear too many stories growing up, but my kids love them!

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Itzel Yagual January 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Wow, this post makes me miss my grandma. My grandma was a storyteller and boy did she have some stories! Before she passed in 2010, the family would all gather together, drink cafecito con galletas and listen to her stories. Thanks for sharing!

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vianney January 28, 2012 at 3:12 am

This reminds me of my childhood, lovely!

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Egilbes January 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

I love hearing stories of when my mom was growing up in Puerto Rico too. It makes me think that life even though she didn’t have much, was simpler that way. Thanks for the great blog. Oh, if you want to laugh a lot, check out the video on you tube called sh** abuelas say. It is hilarious.

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Cynthia January 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm

My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller. His told stories of ranch life in South Texas (the good, bad and ugly), WWII and just the funny every-day anecdotes that are the ones you never forget. I recorded interviews with him and my grandmother several years ago so that I could capture all these details in his own words. He passed away earlier this year, but his wonderful stories live on.
Technology is everywhere. Record, record, record for posterity! You’ll be glad you did.

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Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ January 30, 2012 at 4:01 am

some of my best moments are sitting at the dining table over dinner and hearing my parents recount amazing and sometimes incredulous stories of their life in Cuba. Makes me appreciate my life so much more!

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Niri January 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

I love that picture. These days I am finding the kids more interested in hearing about my past than they are in their story books. Who knew we would have amazing tales to tell

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Carrie February 2, 2012 at 9:04 am

Mel! Those photos are priceless! And viva the storytellers!

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