Ten years ago, I had pneumonia and was very sick. One day, my mom walked into my room and asked me how she could help me. All I could think of was how I could fill myself with air so I could withstand the next coughing fit. I was wondering if my life expectancy could be measured by minutes, hours, or days. I did not think months or years nor did I imagine that I would be writing these words ten years later. I squeaked, “I’m scared. Tell me a story.” My mom said to me, “I have an idea. I’ll be right back.” Within minutes, my mom was back with a book of fairy tales.

My mom read to me every day until I recovered from my illness. The antibiotics took away the illness, and the stories excited my imagination and distracted me back to health. 

Stories have power, in addition to the power of healing. Stories make us laugh and cry. They tell us where we came from. They tell us about other cultures and they let us experience the world through another person’s eyes. 

On Saturday, November 18th, I experienced Tellabration, an international storytelling event that occurs on or close to the third Saturday of every November, as a listener. I let the stories wash over me and fill me up with many feeling: amusement, empathy, joy, hope, and more. The theme of Tellabration this year was hope.

Here are synopses of the stories, as well as pictures of all of the story tellers. 

Gooseberries to Oranges is an immigration story, told by Diane Evans. Fanny was a little girl who lived in Eastern Europe. She talked about picking gooseberries and little brown pears in the summertime. “With winter came war.” With war came disease. Fanny went to America in a huge ship. In America, she lived with her Papa, but she learned that the streets were paved with garbage, not gold. She tasted an orange for the first time and it was good and helped her not feel so nostalgic for the gooseberries and little brown pears of her homeland.

The Tale of Human Pathos on the High Seas and Zombies was set in the 1970s, when everyone was cool, despite their bizarre fashion statements. Blue Sky said that he lived with his family in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, which is a very cool place to live. His mom was into composting and organic gardening. At some point, the food waste was tossed directly into the incredibly organic garden, and the compost heap was sadly neglected until a huge object was discovered there. It was a MONSTER ZUCCHINI! What could be done with a vegetable of that size? Dad got out the chainsaw and transformed the Mutant Vegetable into a dugout canoe. Sky and his brother Sterling got into the canoe and they tried to paddle to Toronto. They used snow shovels for paddles. Unfortunately, beavers started eating the boat. Before long, the beavers consumed the entire boat, and Sky and Sterling were left, bobbing in the water. The Coast Guard came by and issued Sky and Sterling tickets for “unauthorized feeding of a protected species.” They departed without rescuing Sky and Sterling, who soon were DEAD! But not quite dead. “Sterling and I were Zombies.”

Watch out for Sky and Sterling or you might become… ZOMBIEFIED!!!!

Bobby Minkoff told the story of The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever. A man prayed that he could live forever. An angel asked him if he was sure that’s what he wanted, and a bird took him to the land where people lived forever. They ate poisonous mushrooms and took all sorts of wild risks because they said that living forever was boring.
Lorna Czarnota’s story was called The Pool. It is a story about your identity and the joy in who you are. 

Craig Werner told a story called Just One Choice, about a couple named Nancy and Jackie O’Gormley. They had three daughters and they wanted to have a son. Other characters in the story included a magical seal, the wee folk, and changelings.

Pat Feidner told the story of a city boy named Michael, who was sent to live in the countryside with his uncle and his many cousins. He discovered his love of mules and he decided to save up his money to buy his mother a mule. He was told that mules don’t belong in the city, but that didn’t stop him from trying to buy a mule.

Big Mamma Boo told the story of A Dog Named Amen. She explained the meaning of her name. Big Mamma is an elder mamma, and boo means love. She talked about the prayer warriors who met at church to do intercessory prayer. She said that her friend’s daughter adopted abused dogs. One of the dogs alerted people to a break-in and saved everyone’s lives. That was the dog named Amen.

Tom Burger told the story of Pandora. Zeus gave her the gift of curiosity when he breathed life into her. She was beautiful. Pandora means “all gifted.” She was also given a dowry in a box. She was not to open that box, but she had more curiosity than common sense. She accidentally let out all of the troubles of the world: hate, disease, prejudice, deceit, poverty, and death. She also let out hope. “I am hope. Hope is already around and behind all of those troubles.”

7 thoughts on “Tellabration!”

  1. I know someone living in Florida who is a storyteller (and an author) and has been to the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee. I certainly would have enjoyed the stories of Big Mamma Boo and the Immigration Festival. And, you have reminded me that I have not yet received my pneumonia vaccination. I'm almost 65, and my father very nearly died of pneumonia when he was only 48 years old. It came on so quickly – and is a killer, as you well know. I came close to pneumonia about 20 years ago and I remember how sick I was when I finally gave up and saw my doctor. It was just starting.

  2. What a brilliant idea… I haven't been to a story telling session after school. It's been so long that I have forgotten what's it's like to listen to someone telling a story. I loved the zombie story a lot. The others are so creative as well. What a delightful experience this muat hve been.

  3. Reading or storytelling such as your mom did, seems do help us forget pain, illness, etc. She sounds like a wonderful mom! The storytellers had some great stories.

  4. Long back I was down with typhoid & jaundice and my parents were traveling!
    Actually my husband used to tell me a lot of stories as we had no smart phones back then !
    ( feel ancient)

  5. It seems like a great and interesting event. I also believed that storytelling is a great way to express various emotions, especially for kids it is a wonderful way to teach them valuable life lessons, in a simple and interesting manner. like your mom, I also do that with my kids. it is a lovely read, thanks for sharing.

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