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Tell Us a Story

By Marilyn Rampley

When our children were little, bedtime rituals included a bath, brushing teeth, one last drink, snuggles, thoughts about the day’s blessings and lessons, and reading a picture book.  Nighttime kisses, of course, ended the ritual and their sweet dreams began. (Sometimes I drifted off, as well!)

Bedtimes with our grandchildren began with the same script.  Somewhere along the way, though, that special good-night time morphed into “Tell Us a Story” time.

The new ritual began innocently enough. Once when we were away from home, with no books available, I told them a story about when their parents were little. From that moment on, the new tradition reigned. Now that they range in age from 7 to 14, my treasure chest of remembered stories has grown into a very large trunk.

First we do all the prep needed to go to bed—baths, teeth, meds, etc. Then we turn out the lights and get comfortable. Next they make requests, which rotate between calling up favorite, formerly-shared stories and asking for brand-new ones. Every time I think I can’t possibly remember yet another story, some hint from the grandkids pops out a new one.

Categories range from specific to general. Specifics include: Tell us about the time Grandpa Ray got sprayed by a skunk. Tell us about the time you got lost and there was lightning. Tell us about the time firefighters came and our parents never woke up.

General categories range from Tell us a story about Mom that we’ve never heard before, to Tell us a funny one about Dad that happened at school, to Now tell us about a time you and Boppa were really scared. These can be brain-taxing!

Recently I attended a volunteer luncheon highlighting this quote from Robert McKee: “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”

Our bedtime stories are profound sharing tools into a collective remembered past about who we are as a family, what our place is in the world, and what we consider important. Past, present and future are wrapped together into one pleasurable, meaningful bundle.

Bedtimes usually end with requests for Just one more, Amma, please…  I have to be firm and clearly state that there is one more and that’s IT!

Some things don’t change, after all.


Marilyn Rampley lives in Phoenix, AZ, where she a Life-Cycle Celebrant performing heartfelt, personalized ceremonies celebrating life transitions. Life-Cycle Celebrations, her new business, focuses on the wisdom and gifts of the 50+ generation. Obviously, she loves and celebrates her grandchildren, who live in Sedona and Phoenix. Her blog can be found at life-cyclecelebrations.com.

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