As a follow-up to the interviews that local fifth-graders conducted of senior citizens, including my husband, Mark, and me, the children, aided by a person from a nearby arts council, put together 26 skits based on what we seniors told them. It was the best show I have seen all year -- and I go to Broadway a lot!
They acted out a scene Mark had described when his jeep in World War 2 rolled over and he and his driver were both injured; they acted out my description of being in a remote Nepalese village where the children have so little compared to these modern kids; they acted out one man's memory of being caught in quicksand and being saved by his loyal dog; they acted out another man's memory of coming to this country from Italy as a 12-year-old and being put into first grade because he didn't speak English. And they acted out an 80-year-old woman's memory of having wet her pants in elementary school. This last was wonderful because they got her point -- that you can undergo something really embarrassing -- and you can get over it.
I was really moved by the way the children tuned into history through our memories, and it was another reminder of how important it is for us to tell our stories to our grandchildren. They won't know what our lives have been like, what kinds of things scared us, embarrassed us, made us happy, or made us sad -- unless we tell them.
Now, over the holidays, when so many of us are lucky enough to be able to spend time with our grandchildren, is a perfect time for letting them into our lives before they knew us. Happy holidays, everyone!