Every night, my father would tuck us into bed with a story, a prayer, and a blessing. Not necessarily in that order.
We’d clamber into bed, giggling at the thought that we might get a story out of him, and we were usually right. He’d cover us and start to tuck us in, but we would beg for a story and he would relent. Most days he would repeat one his mother told him as a child; those were our favorites, but other days, he took requests and allowed us to give him the parameters – scary or funny, male or female protagonist, real or fiction.
On days we chose scary, he would turn off the lights to increase the fright quotient. We knew he would pounce on us with the terrible ending, but we looked forward to it, squealing and giggling afterwards. Mom would yell at us to settle down and go to sleep, and she would scold Dad for riling us up and giving us nightmares.
We didn’t care. We loved Dad’s stories.
Humans have always been wired for story. One only has to look at cave drawings or the hieroglyphics found inside the Pyramids. As soon as humans were able to communicate, we found a way to make our stories permanent. We etched them into the dirt, the walls, and eventually onto “paper.” Without those options, some cultures passed their stories down the generations through oral traditions.
Humans love stories, both fact or fiction.
In these modern times where nothing is a secret, science has invaded our brains and studied our thoughts. It has proven humans are wired for story. The need has been with us since we were created. Certain areas of our brains light up when test subjects are told a story, shown a movie, or are asked to repeat a favorite memory. Who knew? It’s in our DNA.
While Mom preferred Dad would just listen to our nightly prayer and quietly tuck us in with a blessing, we learned so much more from Dad’s stories. My grandmother’s precious stories are ours to repeat. We learned from Dad how to fashion a good story. He took us on adventures. We faced difficult situations and presevered. But most especially, we spent precious moments with Dad. He was the perfect ending to a long day.