Friday, December 25, 2015

Storytellers Christmas: Let's Have an Adventure!

And so we end our Storytellers Christmas with one last tale of adventure-filled Christmas travel. This series has been an adventurous ride indeed, from stories of Bethlehem to family memories and even a few folktales in the mix. Blessings to all my friends out there who have followed along, left comments and celebrated the season with us. Merry Christmas to every one of you!

 Let’s Have an Adventure!
                                                                   Lynn Ruehlmann
Every year before my two children went back to school after the holidays, I made sure they wrote thank you notes for gifts.   They were allowed to draw a picture instead of writing.  Then one year I got to thinking how sweet it would be if we had a family record of these holidays.  So I added another element.  They could pick anything about the holidays—something we’d done together, a gift that they especially enjoyed, anything they found memorable—and either write or draw about that as well.

One year we were going to visit family in Rhode Island.  It’s about a 10 hour drive from our home in Virginia to Rhode Island by car.  That year my husband and I thought it’d be fun to take the train instead.   It wouldn’t save us any time, but we wouldn’t have to fight holiday traffic, and the kids would experience a train trip.    It’d be an adventure!

 The night before we left there was an unusually fierce snow and ice storm.  But we were going to spend the day on a train—how much better it would be than driving!  We boarded the train, equipped with food and games and books.  The snow sparkled through the dim early-morning light.  It was a delight because where we live on the coast of Virginia we rarely have snow for Christmas.  All was festive.  That is, it was until our train began stopping and starting and stopping and starting in places that were not stations.  It turned out that during the storm the night before, trees had fallen all along the tracks.  Every time we came to one, our conductors had to get off the train to cut limbs and remove trees before the train could proceed!

And then we arrived in Richmond—still not that far from home--where we stopped midway across a trestle bridge.  We peered out the windows.  The problem couldn’t be trees.  There was nothing on either side of the train but empty air.  Far underneath us was a car dump.

picture by one of Lynn's children of the "big adventure"

It took quite awhile before conductors came through to let us know that the tracks were covered in ice, and the wheels of the train had slipped from their grooves.  We needed to wait for a handcar to come and put things right.   Needless to say, no could get off the train.  There would be no where to step except into empty space. 

We waited.  Children and adults on the packed train grew restless.  The food we’d brought with us ran out.  Train food ran out.  Restrooms became unusable.

I tried to counter child complaints by enthusing, “What an adventure we’re having!”

The handcar arrived, and still we waited and waited.  Then the conductors slunk through the cars again, their faces pinched.  The wheels of the handcar had slipped off the track.  We had to wait for a second handcar to come rescue the first handcar.

Our adventure grew longer by hours.      

Finally, the train was set free and we were off.  When we arrived in Washington, DC, still far, far from our destination, conductors said we shouldn’t get off the train because we weren’t staying long and they wouldn’t wait for anyone.  One desperate fellow-passenger Dad from the other end of our car got off anyway.  We watched in awe as he wove through the crowd at the station and disappeared.   We held our breaths for him.   Just at the very last possible moment--we could hear the train’s engine--he reappeared and hopped back on the train just before it started moving.

His arms were piled high with bags of fast food.  His children were ecstatic!  And then he came down the car, told us that when he’d gotten to the fast food window, he’d plunked down money and said, “Give me anything!  Give me everything this money will buy.”

And then he gave our kids bags of food.  We were as astounded and overjoyed as our children!  He wouldn’t even take any money from us.   Christmas had come early!

We arrived in Rhode Island late that night.  The trip had taken twice the normal length of time, but we all surely had a story to tell.  Ever since then, my children have delighted in teasing me by referring to all iffy experiences as, “Let’s have an adventure!”

About Lynn, from her website:

There once was a girl whose parents named her Lynn, another word for "cascade." She loved to watch people; she loved to lose herself in stories. As years passed, she studied literature and psychology, she played with paints and crafts, and she practiced music and theater. She loved them all, but most of all, she loved stories. As time went by she connected all the things she loved and found that it was called "storytelling." And so she tells cascading stories.

Lynn lives in Virginia but happily travels anywhere for storytelling. She performs a wide range of programs and stories. Some are designed for adult interests; some address student curriculum needs; and some are family friendly entertainment. 

Contact Lynn at: 

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

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