For the last six years I have been doing a “story time” with the youth in our Crisis Program on Sunday evenings. We sit in comfy chairs, enjoy a snack and I read first a wisdom story, and then follow up by either reading or listening to a Stuart Mclean Vinyl Café story.
I work the evening shifts and on this Sunday night, I was feeling stressed over the season and frustration with my own son. I was not really in the mood to do story time and was thinking I might not do it that evening. But I did bring the story books just in case.
A couple of youth asked if we could read a story, and so I said yes. It was a small group. The numbers for story time really vary. But I have learned from past stories, that it does not matter how many people you have. Each evening is unique.
This evening the stories were about Christmas. The wisdom story was the Gifts of the Magi which is about a poor couple who both sell their most prized possessions to get each other gifts. The Stuart Mclean story was a funny one about gift giving and how things can get out of hand at Christmas.
Often there is not a lot of time to chat after story, as we usually end just before bedtime. It is a time to relax, enjoy being read to, share a few comments and then head off to bed. On this night with this little group, the girls really started sharing their feelings about the stories, the season, their families and gift giving. They spoke eloquently about not having money, but how much they were enjoying making homemade gifts. They talked about how the small things count and how they realized how much love goes into handmade gifts. One spoke about a blanket her grandmother knitted for her and how she recognized each stitch was a stitch of love. We had a beautiful conversation about what is important in life and how complicated families can be especially at Christmas.
I felt truly blessed sitting in this little circle, listening to the youth express their thoughts and sharing snapshots of their lives. For a little group, we talked a lot and went past the bedtime hour. But it is the Christmas season and it felt that what we experienced in that little circle is what this season is about. Caring, sharing, listening, love.
And as often happens in my interactions with the youth, I was changed. As mentioned earlier, I had been stressed going into work but after story time the stress was gone. All I felt was immense gratitude and love. At Covenant House Vancouver, we provide care and resources for the young people we serve. But they also give so much to us. They challenge us to grow, to look deeper beneath the surface, and to appreciate the many gifts we are given in this life. Our young people truly are gifts to us.
Shared by Lesley, Youth Worker at our Crisis Program