Come, rather,” then she said, “dear guest, and tell us
From the beginning the Greek stratagems…”
The room fell silent, and all eyes were on him,
As Father Aeneas from his high couch began…
—Virgil, The Aeneid
Each of us has stories: the stories that are chapters of our life.
To hear another’s stories is to enter the drama of his life. Often, it is also to learn a part of our own story.
Yet the lives of many of those closest to us—including our own parents and grandparents, or our dear friends—can remain a closed book to us.
It is in our power to open these books, but it will take a specific effort. We have lost habits of story-telling and of generational sharing. Our elders have no expectation that we want to hear their stories or that there will be a context for them to be heard.
The young will need to take initiative in expressing interest and in making such contexts. Those who are older (even if not very ‘old’) will need to step forward; you have something to say that needs to be heard. The time is now; connections need to be made.
We have lost habits of story-telling and of generational sharing. Our elders have no expectation that we want to hear their stories or that there will be a context for them to be heard.
What was it like growing up where and when you did? How did you meet your spouse, or your friends? How were you educated? Where did you work? What adventures did you have? What about the stories you heard from your elders?
To those who love you, these stories are life-giving, and only you can tell them.
What better time to make space for story-telling and life-sharing than at our Thanksgiving gathering? It will take some effort and some re-arranging of our plans. But the pay-off will be beyond reckoning.
John A. Cuddeback, Ph.D. is professor of Philosophy at Christendom College. His writing and lectures focus on ethics, friendship, and household. His blog, Life Craft, is dedicated to the philosophy of household.
Editor’s Note: This article appeared first on the author’s blog with a slightly different title, and it has been reprinted here with permission.