Tis the season to focus on loved ones; a time to re-establish those relationships so important to a life of harmony and balance. Our trading post tribe appears to be growing larger and more varied with each passing year, and in many ways that branch of the family tree is as important to us as our immediate clan. Many Navajo people have become part of the brood, and, because of the value they place on the family unit, we have learned much about the importance of familial relationships from them.
McKale and Alyssa Simpson
Our local friends have worked hard to maintain good relations with all of us at the trading post, even though it often seems that doing so might cost them their sanity. In the not too distant past, it was essential for the Navajo people to develop and preserve strong associations with tribal members and with the local trading post operators. Each group provided a different type of security in an extremely difficult environment. By relying upon each other, these people were able to build more safety into an otherwise harsh and unforgiving world.
Life can be just as troublesome and frustrating today as it was 100 years ago. It is therefore still important to build the stability of strong family ties into our daily lives. I recently experienced the sense of well being and emotional security kindred support offers, and it helped prop me up in a time of overwhelming anxiety. That support also gave me the resolve I needed to keep moving forward. Building tradition, trust, affection and a wealth of good memories with family and friends may be the insurance I need to keep this future old geezer out of the rest home.
On school nights, it is a tradition at our home to prepare for bed soon after dusk; a 9:00 p.m. down time is not unusual for us. Because we rise well before dawn, an early retirement time is essential. The problem is that being in bed for my girls, Alyssa and McKale, does not always translate into being asleep.
A few nights ago, McKale was trying to talk me into making up a story for her listening pleasure. I was claiming cranial melt down, and suggested that either she or Alyssa tell me a story. Alyssa came up with the idea of creating a story in the round. She suggested one of us start by forming an idea and creating a paragraph or two. Then the next person would jump in and add his or her two cents. This process is repeated until the story is complete.
The girls created a story about a very large bull elephant with a bad attitude. The elephant lived in the jungle and maintained a private mud wallow; no visitors allowed! As our hero is enjoying a relaxing mineral bath, a laughing hyena with a pink flamingo in his jaws trots by, on his way to a barbecue.
The elephant experiences a moment of pity and rescues the doomed bird. Placing "Pinkie" on his heavily tusked head, our hero belligerently turns to leave. Feeling cheated, the hyena foolishly latches onto the rogue elephant's delicate tail.
As you may guess, a full blown jungle ruckus ensues; vegetation is uprooted, muck and yuck is flying everywhere, and every animal in the neighborhood arrives to participate in the mayhem. There are screams of terror and delight, howls of laughter and pain, and moans of agony and pleasure. The elephant cannot detach the persistent hyena from his hind quarters until the flamingo hollers, "Just sit down"!
The pained pachyderm skids to a halt and plops down on the no longer laughing hyena. As the tremendous pressure peaks, the hyena expels all excess air pressure. This causes a rather unique sound, and when the elephant raises himself the hyena nervously laughs as he attempts to regain his breath. The elephant and the flamingo are humored by the combination of "tunes" escaping from the tortured beast and begin to add to the musical melee.
The other animals become greatly amused and excited by the whole affair, and they add rhythm and melody by banging coconuts, strumming jungle vines and giant spider webs while emitting every guttural sound possible from their underdeveloped vocal cords. Before long there is a full fledged jungle band. The newly formed group decides to take its music on the road, and becomes a huge hit in the "wild kingdom." The whole of the natural world falls in love with them.
I am not sure how well our hyena friend held up to the pressures of stardom but I am guessing that it was a real gas. As the story developed, Alyssa, McKale and I laughed out loud, minimized our parent/child gap and built stronger ties. We also had some plain old-fashioned fun.
We are privileged to work with a number of talented and creative artists here at the trading post. Often we sit together and have discussions concerning creativity, cultural tales and just plain fun ideas. Just as the story my daughters and I came up with got out of hand so, often, do these planning sessions. It is a wild and crazy experience working and living around such relaxed and funny individuals. The fun part is that you never really know what may come of it.
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