A Tradition of Storytelling and the Question: What Night Is Tonight?

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When I was very young, every Friday there was a familiar and comforting ritual. My dad would come home from work, wearing his tie, carrying his briefcase, and as he crossed the threshold of our New Jersey house he’d ask: “What night is tonight?”

We kids would all answer in joyful unison: “FRIIIIIIDAY!!!”

Then our custom would be later that evening to don our pajamas, sit by the fire and sip ginger ale. It was time for cheese doodles and stories.  Each of us four would get a turn to tell a story. We’d make up stories, starting with my older sisters, who would usually regale the family with stories about rabbits, and horses and then it would be my turn. I’d tell a serious story about trucks, and hard working construction men, the ones I’d watch for hours and hours with rapt fascination.

It was a tradition I never forgot…and one that I’ve carried in to my life as a grandfather, much to the delight of Sofie and Nathan, my 2 and 6 year old grandkids. Last night wasn’t a Friday, but it was a good time to sit down with them and have a story time.  First I made up a tall tale about a pair of little kids who take their dog on a walk and suddenly are flying in the air and meet an old man with a magical hamster. Then each took their turn, trying their best to create their own little narratives.

Telling stories is mostly about giving everyone the floor…just for that little time, we are all rapt and fascinated with whatever they want to share. Everyone deserves to be the star. These moments I am sure will become an important part of their growing up and some day, they too will come home after a long day and ask, “What night is tonight??”