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Family story collection
"In our family stories there are often some unexpected twists and turns, unsuspecting characters, or a surprise you could never have anticipated!" -Debra Leigh

by Debra Leigh

Of all the things there are to collect, I most enjoy collecting stories-family stories. There are stories about running away from home, bonding and coming together as a family, weddings, divorces, childbirths and funerals.

One of my favorites is a story my sister told me about her granddaughter. Four-year-old Kenzie was visiting on an evening when my sister was planning to mow the lawn. As she pulled the lawn mower from the garage Kenzie followed her happy as a lark, singing and talking.

When my sister was ready to start the lawn mower she asked Kenzie to go inside the house. Reluctantly Kenzie went to the back door, turned around and through the screen said: "Grandma, you wanna a piece of me, uhn Grandma, you wanna piece of me?"

The phrase, "Do you want a piece of me?" means different things to different people-some may consider it a challenge to a fight while others may recognize "Piece of Me" as a cool title and popular song by Britney Spears.

A bit shocked, my sister realized that Kenzie just wanted her attention, so she quickly went into the house, scooped her up and showered her with hugs, tickles and kisses! She told her, "Yes, I want a piece of you! I want this piece of you to stay in the house until I finish the lawn-you got that?"

Like me, you might wonder where Kenzie picked up that kind of language. You might also want to know why Kenzie thought it was OK to say this to her dear, sweet grandmother. Like most family stories-there is usually "more to the story."


In our family stories there are often some unexpected twists and turns, unsuspecting characters, or a surprise you could never have anticipated! And at times, just when you think the story is about to end it goes on and on. Sometimes the best stories are the simple stories about just being together with each other and how we are when we're together-like the rest of this story ...

Every day Kenzie's father comes home from work anxious to spend time with the three most important ladies in his life-his wife and two young daughters. As soon as he comes in the door the girls run to greet him and he asks, "Who wants a piece a me? Do you want a piece of me?" "I want a piece of you, Daddy!" exclaims Kenzie. "Me too, Daddy!" squeals Brooklyn. And he scoops the girls up in his arms and showers them with lots of kisses, hugs and tickles.

My sister has witnessed this family ritual many times while visiting her son's home and often speaks of how precious it is to watch her son engaging with his daughters. But Kenzie asking, "Grandma, do you wanna piece of me?" struck my sister as funny because it was the first time Grandma was invited to join in this family ritual by her granddaughter and she happily accepted!

Every year we gather on the Fourth of July for a family reunion and oh the stories we tell! I'll collect a whole new batch for my family story treasure chest.

Debra Leigh is the lead organizer for the Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative at St. Cloud State University.

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