I am currently taking a class called “Stories” in Organizational Dynamics. It is a fascinating class observing how stories in our everyday lives shape, mold and influence our overall perception of self and our worldview; and then how to apply this knowledge of self and storytelling to better communicate messages throughout an organization. If perception is reality then storytelling is like the silk a spider uses to weave and thread its web together, to form its reality. Too often we can get entangled in webs of our own making simply because we are not aware of the stories we are telling ourselves and the stories we are using to understand others. Below is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for class that encapsulates a family moment influential in the making of my own cobweb.
Every Christmas my dad sets aside one night to go shopping for my mom. He prides himself on having impeccable taste, on buying ensembles as opposed to single items that don’t match, and on only purchasing quality designs. His motto has always been, ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it; but if you’re going to buy it, then don’t purchase shit.’ He also likes to boast that his decisiveness can have him out of the mall, with all of his shopping complete, in less than 4 hours. I love accompanying him on these trips. I love watching him select his presents for the love of his life with delicate care. To watch him rub the material of clothes between his two fingers while he mutters to himself, almost as if he is having a conversation with my mom. Sometimes he will ask me to weigh in.
“What do you think kiddo, stripes or suede?”
“Suede.” I nod confidently. “Got to go with the feel of the material, right?”
Dad’s eyebrows dance up and down in delight, as if I’ve passed some test on quality.
On Christmas morning, after all the kids have opened their presents, my dad sits my mom down and insists that it’s her turn. My mom waves her hand shooing him away, embarrassed at his show of affection.
“Eh eh eh.”
My dad makes this noise as he leads my mother by the small of her back to the coach. She plops down giving in to his heart’s command. With each package he tells a story. He has marked each package with initials so that he will know what is inside. I sit amongst my siblings laughing, ooo-ing and awing. Every package my mother opens, she hovers above for a moment in awe.
“Ooooh, Johnnnny…this is so beautiful.”
And just when my mom thinks her gifting is done, my father presents her with a jewelry box. The tears well up in her eyes, I have watched it happen so many times. She opens the box and inside is a shining emerald, or gold pennant, or glistening diamond. My mom shakes her head,
“This is too much, this is too much.”
But my Father goes to her and whispers something in her ear that makes her sigh. If it’s a necklace or a bracelet, he will remove it from the box and clasp it around my mother’s neck or wrist. Then there is this moment where their eyes meet and between them something is shared, a heart song acknowledged. This interchange is one of my most cherished parts about Christmas, better than any Christmas movie I’ve ever watched.
Moral: True love has a visible presence in its happiness, mirth and affection.
Gosh Golly Gee,
A Warrior Princess