For all the cracking wise and exhaustions and glasses of wine, most of us are grateful for the warm memories. And this guest post from Don Schlienz captures that nostalgia. It is comforting for those of us still in the world of little kids, or those of us surviving the teenage years – all together now, exhale. It’s also nice to know that it’s not our imagination, we really do remember some bits and pieces forever. They become part of our mental repertoire, like the muscle memory of driving a stick shift or riding a bicycle.
Bedtime Stories and Lullabies
“Once upon a time, there lived a (fill in the blank)…and they lived happily ever after.”
“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word
Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…”
Silly stories and nonsense rhymes, told and sung by a loving adult to a small child, a toddler, a baby. Meant to comfort and calm, and help young ones to ease into sleep. Many times done from the steady back and forth of a rocking chair, or told while lying together on a bed. The voice is warm and familiar. The blanket is soft and snuggly. A teddy bear or favorite doll is held close by. The light is low. The night outside the window is dark and threatening, but there is security and safety in the ritual.
Then there is magic. There is wonder. Their hearts are full. Properly used, songs and stories reduce the excitement, lull a child to sleep, cool a fever, calm a nightmare, or bring out a sigh, a smile and then a snore…followed by dreams.
For thousands of years, in lands and cultures both ancient and modern, in all languages and symbols, the lullaby and the bedtime story have been a key part of being human. They are passed down through generations. Without knowing anything about a people, without knowing a word of the language, you will recognize a traditional lullaby by its gentle delivery, a bedtime story by its rhythms and funny voices.
“Rockabye baby, in the treetop…
And shockingly, the threat of violence, ghastly images, scary beasts … danger!
“Fee, fi, fo, fum…”
“Or, I will huff and I will puff and I will blow your house in.”
“…down will come baby, cradle and all.”
It is not the words that sooth and console. It is simply the shared act between a parent (or grandparent) and child, a ceremony repeated over and over, night after night, year by year, a way to end the day, fall into sleep, drift off into dreams.
The memory in my mind is of my own children insisting on a bedtime story…And then one more. Or I am sitting with a sick child on my lap in a rocking chair as I sing and hum a tune from my own childhood. A small warm body in pajamas, a small head against my chest, a smile and a laugh at the same joke told the same way with the same voice one hundred times and more. Wondering eyes. Tired eyes. Sleepy eyes. Closed eyes. A sigh and a snore. Then there is magic. There is wonder. And my heart is full.
Tickets are now on sale for Lullabies, 4:30 pm, Saturday, March 15, 2014 (at VBC, 541 Marshall Road SW, Vienna, VA 22180) – $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 60+ and students (15 – 18), youth (14 and below) attend for free accompanied by a ticketed attendee. Tickets can be purchase through a member of the choir, or online.