Grandma as the Storyteller and the Importance of Rituals and Traditions for Our Grandchildren

Grandma as the Storyteller and the Importance of Rituals and Traditions for Our GrandchildrenThis Grandma just had the privilege of visiting Canyon Ranch in Tucson. On the way to their Health and Healing Center, I came upon a large outdoor sculpture of a grandmother with many different children around her. The title and explanation of the statue is as follows:

“Grandmother storyteller. “

“The storytelling ritual existed for centuries in native communities as the secret oral history. Grandmother storytelling is a universal figure recalling a time when grandmothers gathered the children to their story circles a place within the tribe to impart myths, legends, traditions, and sister stories and the wisdom of the people. Arizona earthworks Sandra Cox and Kelly Glen 520-907-2047 WWW. A Z earthworks.com”

The grandma sculptures can be found on their website under the “Spirit Sculptures” in “Faces of Love.”

How relevant that grandmas imparting “myths, legends, traditions, and sister stories and the wisdom of the people” is listed under Spiritual. According to Wikipedia, “spirituality may refer to almost any kind of meaningful activity, personal growth, or blissful experience. Traditionally, spirituality refers to a process of re-formation of the personality but there is no single, agreed-upon definition of spirituality.” When we grandmas gather our grandchildren and share stories of our lives and the lives of their parents, family traditions and family history, the bliss is our own. So many times, the grandchildren will ask us to tell us about their parents when they were little. We have enough life experience and have made enough life mistakes that we have gained the wisdom of years. Our grandchildren crave our time and wisdom. How appropriate to have a statue of a grandmother storyteller.

When researching rituals, on line, I found “Why Rituals Work: There are Real Benefits to Rituals, Religious or Otherwise,”
By Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton, May 14, 2013, in the Scientific American, the authors write:

“Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work. While anthropologists have documented rituals across cultures, this earlier research has been primarily observational. Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.”

When researching traditions, on line, I found “The Importance of Tradition,” By Wendi Williams.
“When I think about this time of the year, the word tradition comes to mind along with thoughts of my maternal grandmother. My grandmother, like many grandmothers, was a strong supporter of family. She undoubtedly was the glue that held our family together. There were no quarrels or thoughts of indecision about where the holidays would be spent – grandmother’s house was the place to be for warm words of encouragement, lots of hugs and wonderful home-cooked meals. We were one big happy family that traveled over the highways and the byways to a familiar place called home. Although we now gather at different places with some old and some new faces, it is the tradition of “gathering” that she instilled in us.”

“Tradition is generally defined as long-standing beliefs, practices or customs that have been handed down from one generation to the next. Every culture, every race or group of people have their own rich customs and traditions.”

We can become grandma storytellers. We can have a positive impact on our grandchildren’s lives by passing on our own rich customs and traditions.

By showing our grandchildren family photographs of previous generations, if we have them, we can share family history.

By showing our grandchildren how our family celebrates holidays, birthdays, special events, we can share family history, rituals and traditions.

We grandmas can create a family history, create traditions and rituals of our own. We can celebrate our own traditions in our own ways and pass on those customs and traditions, whether we are the first grandma to do so or have the rich traditions of past generations to emulate. For those of us who lost our families through the Holocaust or other tragedies that befall families, we can create new family traditions and rituals and create our own family history.

Children remember rituals and traditions more than they remember time we spend with them. For those of us grandmas with busy lives or who live far away from our grandchildren, this is good news.

Creating rituals and traditions is easy. We humans do that naturally. Think about what you say when you say hello to your grandchildren or say goodbye to your grandchildren. That is a ritual and tradition. When you have a special activity you do with the grandchild, (yes, even playing Bingo with the grandchild), that is a ritual and tradition. We tell our grandchildren that their parents learned to play cards with their grandparents. We are teaching them to play Hearts, not Gin Rummy, but all the same, the grandchildren will remember those times.

However, grandma as story teller is a deeper tradition and is a greater responsibility upon us.
“The storytelling ritual existed for centuries in native communities as the secret oral history. Grandmother storytelling is a universal figure recalling a time when grandmothers gathered the children to their story circles a place within the tribe to impart myths, legends, traditions, and
sister stories and the wisdom of the people.”

Every family is unique. Every family’s history is unique. Every family is spiritual in its own way.

We grandmas are the “ glue” to “gather” the generations together. We grandmas are the “Faces of Love.”

This Grandma’s mantra is that grand parenting is all joy and no responsibility. I guess I now have to revise that mantra. Grandma as storyteller IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY and one which brings the storyteller great

Joy,

Mema

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