Once upon a time. The best children’s stories begin that way. Ever since my daughters were young all of the stories and tales I told them started that way. Once upon a time . . . the story of Peter and Pansy, Once upon a time . . . a girl lived in a rainbow colored house, Once upon a time . . . there were three sisters. While I barely remember the stories, they have vivid memories of our evening story times and the tales I wove out of air. The Peter and Pansy stories were a favorite of all three. I managed to tell that story over several nights, maybe even weeks. And just when it was getting good – you guessed it – bedtime! Then the next night they begged me to tell them what happened next. When the story finally ended it was not how they expected. If I remember correctly Pansy died, but by then she was an old woman. Still, it was sad for them to hear that one of their beloved characters died. All of the stories had a purpose. Not just to entertain, but to inform or to teach them a lesson of some sort. Today my daughters reminisce about the stories I used to tell them. The soft glint in their eyes and ready smiles are evidence of good memories coming to the surface.
Now that I have grandchildren the story times are less frequent, but much more pleasant. When they lived with me this past fall and winter there were times they objected to bedtime. There is no better way to calm a cranky child than a story well told. Snowy and Blowy were born. A story so simple in it’s beginnings, yet also one that could go on and on. Snowy was a snowman who came to work at the North Pole for Santa. He got his name because he could make it snow and snow and it was also why he got his job. He created large amounts of snow to hide the entrance to Santa’s castle. When he met Blowy (who could blow snow around like you never saw) it was love at first flake. Together they are still snowing and blowing around Santa’s castle. Even the adults in my house were known to use Snowy and Blowy to their advantage. For example, if they kids were misbehaving they weren’t going to get a Snowy and Blowy story that night. (Boy did that work!) Eventually Snowy and Blowy married and had two snow children, a boy Blizzard and a daughter, Icicle (Icy for short). Even the snow pets had snow related names. The cat’s name was Slushy and the dog’s was Drift. Blowy’s dad was none other than Frosty and her mom was Flurry. I had a lot of fun creating this family of snow people. In Snowy’s first adventure he melted on a trip with Santa one Christmas Eve when he stowed away and stepped off the sleigh onto a hot roof in Florida. Santa managed to bring him back to life by bringing his blue heart back to the North Pole. Using Santa magic and Snowy snow he became a snowman once again. I even found two stuffed snowmen toys. One with a green scarf and hat (Snowy) and one with pink (Blowy). The fun part about them was they had a microphone inside and repeated what you said. Perfect additions to the Snowy and Blowy story.
By springtime Snowy and Blowy were on the back burner. The grandchildren moved with their Mom and Dad into a home of their own. But every once in a while I would get asked, “Tell us a story. Please??”. While baby sitting Lola and Harper one night I got a request for a story. This time with a twist. I had to put all of the little stuffed toys they brought over into the story. I looked at the assemblage of toys on the coffee table and wondered what to do. There was a white cat hand puppet, Lola’s pink bunny Fluffy, a round robot from Star Wars and some kind of Shopkin toy – a cookie with a piece bitten off. I know very little about Star Wars and even less about Shopkins. Boy was I in trouble. I figured this would be a lame story, not my best, but I didn’t want to make it my worst either. Then I spotted my dancing Frosty the Snowman toy Harper left out. Ah ha. Inspiration struck. I borrowed from The Land of Misfit Toys in the old Rankin-Bass Santa TV special. The toys were so lonely because no one wanted them. The cat didn’t meow, it barked. The bunny had just one ear. The robot wouldn’t stop beeping no matter what you did. And the cookie? Well she had a smile on her face but couldn’t stop crying. The robot especially annoyed her. The telling of the story was crazy. Here I am with the cat in one hand barking like a dog while holding down one of the rabbits ears with the other. Then moving to the Shopkin and bawling like a big baby, while trying to make the robot beep all the time. In between beeps the Shopkin cries and tells the robot to shut up. Laughter from my audience. Great – I’ve got them hooked. Then Frosty stops by and asks the toys why they are so lonely. And the kitty barks out why. Frosty can see and hear for himself why these toys are unloved. So he brings them to Santa’s castle and they are fixed as good as new. The cat meows so sweet. The bunny has a new ear. The Shopkin cookie laughs and her attitude matches her smile now. And the robot? He still beeps, but only when you push his button. Santa made sure the toys found good homes. The End.
I always loved to write. I started a journal in high school and more or less kept at it over the years. I don’t do it as often as I did in the past, but maybe that’s because my life is on an even keel now. I wrote every time something bothered me. Sure things still bother me but I have different coping mechanisms in place to deal with those feelings. When I was bored or couldn’t sleep I would go to the place in my mind where the I kept my make-believe tales. So many of them over the years. The one about the girl born in the 1900s and her life through the years – sacrificing herself for family and work. Then getting a chance to do over, becoming younger and younger until a beautiful young girl replaces the tired, old woman. ( A fantasy for sure!) Or the “winery story” as I call it, about a family of winemakers and the passions and intrigue that take place over several generations. And I have one about a famous AM disc jockey with a successful talk radio show who plots to assassinate the first African-American president. (And no, I don’t have any ill will towards the President. I am a fan. This was in my mind a before Barack Obama was elected. ) There’s a new book in my head most of the time. I wish I would write them down. All of them. I have some darn good ideas. Like the book I started called Standard Elimination. A futuristic tale of health care gone wrong in the 21st century. (In this book, a standard elimination is a clinical abortion to weed society of unhealthy individuals.) If I don’t finish this one soon, most of my ideas will soon be truth, not fiction. Part of my problem is discipline and distraction. I have to school myself to write my blog. I also get distracted easily – Pinterest for crafting and cooking ideas. My tablet for games to make the time go by (and also for Pinning). And then there’s the commitments to my sister. So a book is a mountainous task for me. Even though the time for resolutions is past, I am going to resolve to write more. Starting now. Well, I’m writing now already – but not enough. So I am going to try to put one of my books or stories together. Sort of like the nano rymo challenge where you have to write so many words in one month. All I can do is try.
With any luck my next post should begin with Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to be a writer and so she wrote and wrote and wrote . . .
This is not The End.
Ta Ta for now.