Nine years ago, when my Granddaughter Sophie was not quite three, I had the pleasure of putting her to bed, when I would come to visit, from across the country. We would sit in the big cozy rocking chair in her room and I would ask what story she would like to hear. It was the same every evening.
“Nana, please tell me the story of when I “woked” up today.”
And so we reviewed the day. I told her the story of my coming into her room around 7:30 when she woke up, helping her get dressed, having breakfast, listening to music, dancing, going to the park,… we talked about each meal, each friend, and concluded with a litany of everyone who loves her. Rather like a prayer.
It was a quiet sweet time and if I missed something she immediately jumped in to correct the omission. It was amazing the detail she recalled: from colours, sounds, birds, trees, flowers, people and she was a stickler for accuracy. Her observation skills were highly developed and inspired mine. I noticed more when I was with her.
At two and a half, paying attention to the world seemed to come naturally. When I finished the story of the day, I said goodnight and tucked her in. Every night she added:
“Please sing a song from the stairs, Nana.”
And I did. Always twice.
I am sure there was no one in the world who loved my singing as much as Sophie and I treasure these memories still.
I adapted her “story time” for myself and was reminded of the wisdom to review my day before I went to sleep. So much bounty, beauty, detail and things that are mine to do along with the enormity of gifts received and my own omissions flashed across the screen of my mind. How grateful I was with the lingering memories of the day, the gentle promise to do a little better tomorrow and the reminder from a 27 month old what a useful “story” this reflection provided.
During this time of Thanksgiving, in particular, Naikan, a formal method for reviewing our day and a practice that can lead to gratitude, gives us the tools to reconsider our familiar stories, discover new ones and thus a precious opportunity to write better endings. I recommend it.