Story Hour: Imagination Unleashed

Darkness crept over the landscape. Inside the rough cabin, four children enjoyed the warmth of the fire, as their grandfather rocked in a creakety old chair. Jenny and Fran played at jacks. Bud and little Tom lay on their stomachs, their dirty-socked feet warmed by the fire, stinking up the room. They all waited for what they knew was coming—Granddaddy’s stories. Which one would he tell tonight? Would it be the one about the Mississippi riverboat mired in the mud? Or something entirely new?

A few minutes passed with the crackle of the flames licking up the seasoned wood, the bounce of the little rubber ball, the click of the jacks. The drum of Bud’s fingers in time to some melody that played in his head.

Granddaddy cleared his throat. “Did I ever tell you young’uns about the time—”

Story hour. The period between supper and bedtime, back in the day. All my life, I heard my Dad talk about it. The family didn’t own a radio. Television hadn’t been invented yet. So, what did folks do in the twilight hours as they rested from a hard day’s work?

Imagination roamed free. My dad imagined the riverboat, filled with stranded travelers who tossed coins to the boy who grew up to become his grandfather. Those passengers paid dearly for fresh water. The boy was happy to do it. He hadn’t seen that much money in his entire life. His descriptions drew pictures in Dad’s young mind. The oppressive heat of the Mississippi sun. The stink of the dark, sticky mud. The creak of the big riverboat, weighed down by so many passengers, waiting for rain upriver. It was sure to come. And it did, three days later.

Mister Potato-head. Many of us spend our evenings glued to the television, watching whatever is offered there. Our minds are often unplugged, not imagining at all, just licking up whatever they’re fed.

What if we turn off the television?

Share our childhood memories with our children and grandchildren. Stir the fire of their imaginations. They’ll come to know us better. Who we are. Where we came from. What our early life was like.

Like when friends or family drop in for a visit (do folks still do that). Okay, when you’ve invited friends or family over—don’t turn on the television. Unless it’s prearranged for them to come by to watch a game or a movie. Talk. Share stories, not gossip.

If you live alone, pick up a book. In the quiet, let your imagination run free, spurred by the words on the page. I’m not asking you to put away the television forever, just try it one night a week. Have a quiet night when all you do is let your mind drift.

Dream. Write in your journal. Stir up the memories buried deeply within you.

You could call a friend or family member, if you need to talk. But you’d better find someone who will appreciate your conversation and not be angry that you’ve interrupted their favorite TV show. 🙂

Creativity grows and stretches itself in the quiet hours when we allow it room. Encourage its growth in your children’s minds. Provide them time and tools. A journal or diary, Legos or other building sets, a big white piece of paper and some water paints and brushes. And share your memories.

Sometimes the smallest things mean the most.

Do you have a favorite memory handed down from your parents or grandparents?