Conversation and the Long Story

by Rachel Creager Ireland

What does your family do when you get together? Our old standby would be a movie, but you could watch a movie a year with a person for twenty years and never learn a thing about her or him, or have a real conversation. I love a good conversation, but I’m not great at it, especially in groups, especially starting one up. I don’t see my birth mom Barb and her husband Ron often, so I wanted to make the most of the time we’d be together.

A couple years ago they gave us this great game for Christmas. Storymatic is a set of cards with characters and themes on them, and, like all the best games, there are a number of ways to play it, and it’s truly a game that spans ages. The one we chose this time was a variation on the old parlor game in which everyone writes one sentence (more or less) of a story, then passes the page to the next person to write the next sentence. As we go, we fold the page down, so no one can see more than one sentence previous.

As it turns out, we have some highly imaginative people in our family, so the game was even more fun than I’d expected. At the end, the kids requested that I be the one to read the stories aloud, because, according to them, I am particularly good at reading with feeling. But the conclusion of this story in particular had me laughing too hard to breathe, much less read aloud. Moreover, not only is it funny, it’s kind of like a conversation, albeit one in which no one knows what was spoken previously. Still, you can hear themes and meanings spoken across generations. Sort of reminds me of Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner.

Call me self-indulgent, but I thought I’d share it with you all. I’ve got others, too. Will post them if you want more.

Character: long-lost relative
Setting: in the future
Theme: snowman

Old Uncle Joseph loved to garden, and one day he took a trip into the future, and found some seeds that when planted, produced corn stalks on the following day, in the winter time, right next to a snowman.

As the stalks grew they lifted the snowman high into the air, and below we found the remains of what would have been my future second cousin thrice removed.

Oh bittersweet day, my wedding as well as the funeral for a long-lost relative.

Her name was Spice Stiller and she was my great-aunt.

When she heard her Aunt Spice would be coming to see her, she panicked, trying to get the house ready for a visitor. If only she knew that appearances did not matter, it was what was inside that counted.

To her what was “inside” meant what was inside the house such as her furniture, doors and windows. She had no conception of such insides as the furniture of her moral fiber, the doors of her perception or the window of her soul. Her lack of insight would be fatal. The End.

Next time you get together with your family, be sure to do something that will draw everyone out to interact with each other. Happy New Year, friends.

Imagine a snowman in those clouds . . .

Imagine a snowman in those clouds . . .