Holiday Listening Skills: The Reason for The Visit

Taking time to listen...all year long

How are your listening skills? Today is the Colorado Outdoor Education Center’s annual holiday luncheon at The Nature Place.  It is our opportunity to get everyone from the different departments at COEC together for a meal and some quality story telling, some questionable singing, and some good listening.  This is a holiday tradition that has been part of Sanborn for decades.

Story telling is an essential part of the holiday season, it allows us to take a deep breath and immerse ourselves in the history of the past year with our friends and family.  It allows us to remember those we have lost, and celebrate the triumphs of childhood and share our quest for sanity in parenthood.  It allows us the opportunity to listen at a deeper level.

In the excellent article, In Africa, The Art of Listening, author Henning Mankell reminds us why “humans have two ears and only one tongue”.  Much holiday family time revolves around “visits” to different places to see different people…yet a “visit” is also a time to chat and, more importantly, to listen.  It is around these holiday tables that I learned my history and began to define my own set of stories to help explain my distinct sense of self.

One of my family’s favorite stories was about Sandy Sanborn.  My uncle, Charlie, does an amazing Sandy impression and his favorite story is a humorous retelling of The Day The Sheriff Came.  “Chandler” (as my uncle was known) was the Garbage Man at Big Spring.  The day the sheriff arrived (for reasons never known), Sandy had my uncle hide—and then began to tell everyone that “Chandler” was a wanted man.  At the next meal, a shot was fired outside the lodge, and–in dramatic fashion–my uncle crashed through the front doors….covered in ketchup.  (This was always the point in the story my dad would mutter, “My kids are NEVER going there…”)  I don’t remember what happened next—but I’m certain it involved Sandy’s deep belly laugh…a laugh that I had heard imitated for years before I actually heard it in person.

Children LOVE your stories.  They will readily become enraptured as you tell stories about your favorite gifts, most memorable holiday moments, and the history of the traditions you practice and remember.  They want to hear your stories about everything: school, camp, love, adventure, embarrassment, and mistakes.  A good story will teach a lesson…but the listener might not realize the lesson for years to come.  Your stories will shape their paths, and they will return to them again and again to gain more and more knowledge about the world.

In a world where information is ubiquitous, time is a valuable resource, and there are innumerable technological distractions that take away from these “visits” it is important to take time to pause, reflect, remember and share.  Whether we know it or not, we all crave the knowledge those moments provide.  As Mankell says, “Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”

During this holiday season, we hope you take time to tell a story or two, listen to the stories being told, and watch for the new stories being created.

Happy Holidays!






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