Day of Listening

I prefer to think of the day after Thanksgiving not as a day of manic consumerism, but a Day of Listening.

StoryCorps proclaimed the day after Thanksgiving to be a national day of listening a few years ago. I think it’s a great idea. I celebrated Thanksgiving early because flights were much cheaper the week before Thanksgiving. So I asked my parents to tell me a story the weekend after the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. I asked my parents where they were on November 22, 1963.

My mother was a college freshman. She was sitting in a history class watching a video about nationalism, strangely enough. The teacher had left the room, but returned to shut off the film and tell her and her classmates that Kennedy had been shot. They were told to go back to their dorms and find rides home, as the campus was closing down. Each dorm had one phone, so my mom waited in a line of distraught students to call her father for a ride.

My father was working at the manufacturing company where he would spend the next 40+ years. An announcement was made over the intercom. Hundreds of machines came to a halt and remained shut off for 10 minutes. When I asked my dad what happened after the 10 minutes were up, he replied, “We went back to work.”

I enjoyed listening to my parents’ stories about this iconic and tragic moment in American history. I wonder if the art of listening is becoming lost in this age of social media. Do we really “listen” to people by reading their Facebook posts and tweets? Or are we too busy posting and tweeting ourselves? When was the last time you talked to someone on the phone for over an hour? Or wrote someone a letter or an email longer than a paragraph or two?

Take some time this holiday season to ask your loved ones to tell you a story. It is sure to be an enlightening and heartwarming experience.

Hope you have a nice Thanksgiving!

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