Telling Stories at Thanksgiving
November 22, 2017

“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.

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.

Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics.

Leave a Reply


  1. Thank you Dr Cuddeback, for presenting this idea. Yes, the art of storytelling seems to have gone by the wayside. Every once in a while I have the opportunity to share little snippets from my childhood with my grandchildren, and they seem to enjoy it, with a bit of humor. We used to moan whenever my dad would begin with “When I was a boy,…..” but deep down we loved hearing about this “ancient” history! I’ll have to keep this in mind and humor my grandkids (4 teens) when I get a chance. Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

  2. How refreshing to sit at the feet of a philosopher such as yourself, Dr. Cuddeback, and learn, once again, how to be human! Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless you!

    1. Jane,
      You are too kind. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

  3. Kathleen C. Schmiedicke

    Thank you for this wonderful post! Alas, I am aware that not only do I need practice in this endeavor, but also some practical hints/steps/guides/tips along the way just to get the ball rolling. Any advice for this novice?

    A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    1. Kathleen, I’m sure you’re selling yourself short… But I would recommend to the young to make a point of asking the elder members of the family to share, and to the elder members of the family I would recommend that they be somewhat bold in offering to share stories. Sometimes all it takes is a second voice in affirmation of a first person making a suggestion, and then consensus grows. Sitting at the table might work, or perhaps afterwards in the living room… “Hey folks, let’s ask Grandma about when she and Grandpa met…” “Would anyone like to hear of our experience in the post World War II years (or Vietnam…)” I’m willing to bet that it will go better than most of us would have expected. All the best to your whole family.

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