Storytelling Is Not Dead: Nostalgia Is A Pain

Please check out my previous Storytelling posts here.  And my 365 Reviews here.

The holidays have a way of bringing out nostalgia in all of us.

When we are young, we develop special relationships with seasons/holidays, and those feelings shape who we become and how we interpret future holidays.  We bring memories and feelings with us into relationships, and at times, these feelings have us at odds with who we have become.

I have never put a lot of weight into tradition.  Sure, I like when fun things annually pop up into my life, but I’m OK if things change, and I don’t necessarily need to do things just because that’s the way they’ve always been.  My wife’s family is a bit different in that sense, but it makes my lack of tradition work as my life slides right into a couple of her family traditions.  Could I do without an annual trip to the arboretum?  Sure.  I can look at trees for free, but hey, it’s followed by a trip to a nice meal, so count me in!

My lack of tradition probably comes from a tumultuous childhood.  Moving around a lot made it hard to consistently solidify classic traditions.  Growing up with the family income in flux didn’t help matters either.  Those of us that grew up without much around the holidays might have had a tougher time creating the types of traditions that families with a bit of money could afford.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the holidays with my family and still do.  But if I’m being honest the questions of “What did you get for Christmas?” or “Where did you go over break?” hurt for some kids that do not have the luxury as some others.  It’s the reason that I tell my students not to ask people what they got for Christmas; it’s a tough questions for some kids that don’t get much.  And most might not even need much, or want much, but you know how we all get around the holidays…buying shit for each other that none of us needs, even if it means breaking bank accounts and making us all miserable.  But, traditions, you know?

What brought this on?  You might be asking…

Well, over the Thanksgiving break, I was able to pick up the reimagined board game Fireball Island, a staple of kids my age growing up…if you could afford it.  I have no idea how I had one, but like many things when you move all the time as a kid, it came up missing.

It made me happy to be able to piece together a part of my past.  I look forward to rolling the lava marbles down the pathways, knocking off my unsuspecting rivals!  The nostalgia of the game made me spend a good amount of bucks on it, and as an adult, I’m OK with that.  I think we should spend a bit of our hard-earned cash on ourselves once in a while, especially around the holidays.

Actually spending money on ourselves around the holidays is something my wife and I have done for a few years now.  We made a pact with most people in our lives to stop gift giving.  It saves them money; it saves us money; and we all get a bit more of what we all actually want.  If I see something perfect for a friend or family member, of course I’ll buy it, but I do that all year long; I don’t need to pressure myself into a purchase ten days before Christmas because of tradition and habit.

This holiday season, I encourage you to try and break out of a mold that does not fit you anymore.  Change it up a bit.  Keep the traditions that you love, and alter those that are stale.

The problem with our story is that, at times, we can get into routines that keep the story predictable and stale.  Why?

This year, write a few new chapters.  Make your protagonist a bit more round.  And don’t complain that a 80’s film remake ruined your childhood (a discussion for another time).

Most importantly, don’t discount your nostalgia; it’s powerful, and it can connect you to your past in ways that can move and affect you the way most memories can’t.  But don’t romanticize your lack of change.  Remember that dynamic protagonists make for the best stories.

Happy Storytelling!

Eric

Twitter: @comics_teacher

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