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Joy-Full Thoughts on Holiday Storytelling

By Dr. Flora Joy

Many years ago when a television set was first brought to a primitive tribe whose rituals had always included storytelling, the natives immediately gathered around it and were immediately mesmerized with the new invention that promised an endless supply of stories. Soon the storyteller sat alone at the edge of the village. The entrepreneurs who had introduced this invention to the tribe immediately left to arrange to arrange for a massive shipment of their product. When they returned a few weeks later for their hoped-for sales, they found the natives gathered around the storyteller - and the television was turned off. The stunned salesmen inquired and were quickly told, “The television knows stories, but the storyteller knows US.”

And so it goes with stories and storytellers. When family members gather during the holiday seasons, the “Let me tell you about what happened…” stories are automatically told around the dinner table or fireplace. These can produce laughter, fun, and valuable lessons while they bond family members with their intriguing plots. They can also voice the family’s values and beliefs, and they have the power to help family members to get to know each other better.

To encourage family experiences to be told in this manner, CDs containing stories of the holiday rituals of others may be played during family gatherings, and they can prompt discussions that further strengthen the family ties. Some suggested CDs for this purpose are:

Lights & Laughter: Joel ben Izzy Spins Hanukkah Tales
Artist: Joel ben Izzy Record

Stories contained on the CD: The Story of Hanukkah, Hanukkah Basics and Thoughts on Luck, Luck vs. Wisdom, My Favorite Menorah, The Tale of a Shammes, Boy Israel and the Witch, Hanukkah in Chelm, Watching the Candles Burn.

Father Was a Wise Old Man
Performed By: Donald Davis

Stories contained on the CD: Dad’s Stories: Selling Potatoes, The Christmas It Snowed, The Truth Chicken, My Father Was a Wise Old Man, The Year Santa Claus Learned His Lesson

Jeremy: A Christmas Story
Performed By: Jay O’Callahan

Stories contained on the CD: Christmas Candles—A Pill Hill Story, Jeremy

Christmas in Paradise
Performed By: Tom Weakley

Stories contained on the CD: A Carolina Christmas Carol, Answering a Call in the Night: A Hospice Story, The Best Christmas Gift Ever, Christmas in Paradise.

Jewish Holiday Stories
Peformed By: Jim Weiss

Stories contained on the CD: Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, Purim, Passover.

Holidazed! Stories of Holiday Disasters, Discoveries, and Delights
Performed By: Dolores Hydock

Stories contained on the CD: Birthday Gift, Abundant Blessings, Something in There, Finding Christmas

Silent Night
Performed By: Susan Klein

Stories contained on the CD: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, Making Ends Meet by Susan Klein, Star Mother’s Youngest Child by Louse Moeri, A Scent of Oils by Susan Klein, Silent Night with the Island Community Chorus

About the Author

Dr. Flora Joy is a Professor Emeritus of Storytelling at Eastern Tennessee State University. She is the founder of ETSU's Storytelling Master's Degree Program in Storytelling and the founder of the National Storytelling Youth Olympics.


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