I love those words. To me they represent the great joy of story telling. And if anything is forever & intricately woven into the fabric of my childhood, it's story telling; when slipper-shod feet would scurry up the stairs for a nightly tuck-in & bedtime saga.
On the heals of my scamper was my dad. Often he'd give me a head start in order to hide (in one of my usual 3 or 4 "secret" places). Then, with great flare & drama he would woefully call to me ... "Where is she? Where is my Kathy? I can't find her anywhere!" He would then proceed to look in the most unlikely places for me - a dresser drawer, or out the window, or beneath the floor rug.
His was a father's method for making our bedtime ritual fresh every night. Upon discovery, he would overly fuss about having finally found me, all the while scooping me up to the sounds my giggles. Fun as it was, I always knew the best was yet to come.
Once upon a time ...
As he nestled me into my bed covers, we'd settle down for a story - -either one he'd make up on-the-spot (with amazing antics, details & drama), or from a book of tales. I adored Uncle Wiggily & Brer Rabbit. In fact, I can still feel the heft of the large book that contained their stories.
Once upon a time ... became the breathless segue to a world made vivid and real by my father's intonations - complete with facial expressions, sound effects & convincing assurances.
It has been said that I have a vivid imagination. That is true. On the positive side, it means I can readily envision goals, or easily craft plans & agendas & solutions to an array of challenges. In my former business life, they called it creative problem solving.
On the negative side, it means I see bogeymen where none exist; or calculate trouble that never arrives. I dream in color. Mostly it's called fretting, or worry.
I suppose all of that has something to do with why I love being a mother & gandmother. Each in turn, the babes born to our family have allowed me to practice & play out the scenes from my childhood; to utilize the vivid imagination that was - no doubt - born in the drama of my Father's storytelling. I keep a stash of books for that very reason. On occasion, when they're old enough to listen, I craft tales of my own design, just like my father did so long ago.
Even today, a quiet hush comes over me when I hear those words:
Once upon a time ... far, far away ...
... God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth,
a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be
married to a man named Joseph,
a descendant of David.
The virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and
wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary;
you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you are to call him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called
the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of
his father David, and he will reign over
Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”
~ Luke 1:26-33
I can hardly wait for the rest of the story ...