Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Stories and the Importance of Telling Them

I am fortunate to have three lovely Byers Choice Caroler Figurines that my dear mother gave to me one year. They are handmade in the US and while I don't consider myself a collector of things, I wouldn't mind having more of them. I just love them, for some reason, though I admit that Tony thinks they are really creepy! I can see why he would think so, but there is something uniquely timeless about them and perhaps it is partially because they are handmade.

This is our Barrister.

And this is one displayed on my mom's fireplace. I took it in October when I was in Chicago. The picture is a bit blurry, but it looks lovely against her brick hearth. I admit she must have had this up all year (along with the dried out wreath from last year), but she was so busy taking care of my Gran that she only had time for absolute necessities.

I wanted to share another LOVELY Advent treasure book that is written by a talented storyteller and Waldorf teacher, Alan Howard. "Nativity Stories" was a book mentioned in Eric Fairman's "Path of Discovery" books. POD is one of my favorite Waldorf resources, so I went on a hunt to find this out of print book and am thrilled to have it in our annual holiday reading basket.

The stories in this book were compiled when Mr. Howard was assigned the task of telling Advent stories to the Michael House Waldorf School in Derbyshire, England. In the introduction, he explains how he went about creating these stories to inspire the children and to capture the history, magic and reverence of this meaningful event. In the true Waldorf fashion, he emphasizes the importance of telling these stories or any story, for that matter, instead of reading from a book...

"...There is all the difference in the world between telling a story and reading one from one's own or another's composition...when you tell it something happens to it between you and the listener which can never be recaptured in writing. The story itself takes part in the telling, and you become the listener as well as the teller; for you have entered that magic land of imagination which exists somewhere between the sound of your voice and the light of your listener's eyes.

Every one of us - of the older generation, at least, for alas! the telling of stories to children is so much out of fashion these days - must have treasured memories of a parent or a beloved relative telling us stories when we were children; and those experiences still live vividly in the memory, enshrined in a warmth of human intimacy which none of the harsher experiences we may have met since can eradicate.

So whenever a child comes to you with the age-old request, 'Tell me a story, please,' do just that. Tell one. Don't immediately look around for a book to read from - not even this book. Refuse to ease your conscience by saying how much better the writer's version is than yours could possibly be; and suppress the cowardly weakness that wants to say, 'I'm no good at telling stories,' You don't know how good you are till you try; and you can't possibly know what you're missing until you do."

Six lovely stories follow which draw the listeners in as they become one with the tale, experiencing, as the characters do, the lovely miracles of that special night. So without further ado, I am off to go tell a story to my wide eyed little angels. Good night!

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