Stories are an important part of every culture. They tell us where we come from. They try to explain the mystery of the nature of man. Stories are passed down to us for generations, slowly morphing until sometimes they barely resemble their original form. They penetrate through to other mediums and are used as references in idioms, fables, and just things parents say to their children. Stories teach us about our hertiage and about our religions. The Iliad teaches us of human heroes and godly squabbles. Of honor and cunning and love. In India they have tales of the Bodhisattva and teach how to reach Enlightenment. So many stories that we can’t count them all.
Stories play a similar role on a smaller scale too. I’m sure every family has a tale or two that always gets told at different gatherings. About someone saying something embarrasing around the dinner table or something really cute you used to do when you were knee-high to a grasshopper. My family is no different. My family members are story-tellers by nature. Most of us are English majors, and we all love to read and craft words ourselves and try them out on others. I’m not an aspiring author by accident. It’s all in my nature.
One of my family favorites is one of high adventure and cunning. It’s called “The Lord of the Rocks.” My brother John crafted it shortly before the first LOTR movie was released in theaters. It chronicles the tale of six brave little hobbits and their travels through the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. You see, ever since my parents moved to Lawton, we have made our way to the Wichita Mountains almost every major holiday. We pack up some water bottles and trail mix, strap on our boots (in Dad’s case, his army-issue desert ones), and hike us up a storm. I’ve mentioned that we’re all English majors, right? So on one of our first expotitions (yes, expotitions) my mom grabbed a pamphlet that explained about all the trails and campsites that we could use in the refuge. Only one of the first things we all noticed was the misspelling of campsites to the word “Campsight.” “Campsight?” my brother chortled. “How is that different from a campsite?” Which is especially amusing because my brother is notorious for misspelling similar words.
Anyway, we spent the rest of the hike amusing ourselves by looking for a “campsight” and wondering if we would know one if we found one. Thus was born the Lord of Rocks saga and the search for the dreaded Campsight. It includes many other family jokes that have accumulated from our different treks and “Hobbit” names for all of us. (Please note that none of my family members were intimately knowledgeable about Hobbits or anything JRR Tolkein related, and I am probably the only one who has read any of the books, so we don’t have names like Frodo or Merry, but more like Indian names that describe our roles within the family unit.) This lore has continued even as our family has grown to include two more nieces and my and my sister’s husbands.
This year, unfortunately, my husband and I won’t be able to make it to the Christmas trek. I’m sure the others won’t forget to lament the absence of Snowflake and Tag-Along, however (two guesses which of us is named Snowflake). And don’t worry, we will be down later that day to hear all the new stories.
What great stories do you have in your family? How have they grown and changed throughout the years?