December 24th, 1972 – My sister and I are huddled in the back seat of my Dad’s Buick rumbling down interstate 64 from my grandmother’s house in Dunbar, to our home in Hurricane, West Virginia. It was late. What started as an amazing dinner, spun itself into caroling, and storytelling, and presents, and laughter. We were tired, and probably more than a bit grouchy. That’s when Dad turned on the radio and, I think accidentally, started a family tradition.

“A Christmas Carol” was playing on the radio. He explained that when he was growing up, each year at Christmas, he listened to this radio play so he wanted us to hear it too. I remember experiencing all the details of Scrooge’s room and listening, terrified, to the ghost of Jacob Marley begging and threatening through his chain-wrapped ghostly body. My heart beat faster, and my imagination worked overtime, seeing the scenes played out in the darkness of the night. I could smell the cakes at Fezziwig’s party and feel the cold stares of the children of Want and Ignorance. It was Christmas as I had never experienced it. We made my father drive around the block a few times because we didn’t want to get out of the car before the story ended and Scrooge was redeemed.

Our family returned to this same kind of experience many times, on many different trips to listening to our favorite audio stories. Something about them invited our imaginations to soar and our conversations to engage on a level that movies or car games never really allowed. In the car, and out, I’ve found the sound of a story compelling, inviting, and interactive. Vinyl records, 8 tracks, cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, and Mp3’s have all traveled with me, and in turn, taken me on journeys that I would have missed had they not been there.

I don’t know if many families today experience this moment when they travel. I wonder if phones and games and screens on the back of the headrest allow us each to retreat into our own private entertainment worlds. So to be blunt, I’d like to invite you, all of you, to try it this Christmas. Maybe you too, already have this same tradition with your family!

If you’ll be traveling, wrapping presents, or trying to get to sleep—whatever you do with your kids this holiday season—I invite you to try something new but retro, and listen to an audio story together. You’ll engage your senses and imagination, and experience Christmas as a family in a unique way.

Inspired by the stories of our past, we want to help you get started in this new tradition, so we have the cool home gifts just for you:

 

Miss Rory, and the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come

Download it for free. Listen to it all at once (like my niece Kendall), or take the episodes a week at a time, spacing them through December.

I think you’ll like Miss Rory and her magical brand of storytelling. I think your family will love the story of Jacob, a boy living in Bethlehem who doesn’t feel like he can do anything right. If our gift to you helps give your family a new story to tell, we’d love to hear about it!