This has been the best week of the summer—the one that I was planning for, looking forward to, and waiting for since the last school bell rang. My niece and nephews (oh…and their parents) came for a visit. We played board games, told stories, hiked through the woods in search of a geocache, went swimming at the water park, giggled through the “Minions” movie, and stayed up way too late having fun. It was everything I hoped it would be—truly the best week of the summer. And it reminded me of how important it is to keep telling stories. We laughed about old stories and made memories that will turn into new stories. As the kids get older, their time fills with sports and activities. And it is easy for my summer to fill with taking classes, writing papers, and working on big projects at home. This week was all about slowing down and simply enjoying time together. It was the perfect time to remind each other of the family stories that tie us together—the time my brother scared the snot out of me in the basement when we were kids, the way my nephew used to silently melt face-down to the floor when he was three and something made him upset, and the way I locked myself out of my own house on the first day of school this year. (The boys won’t let me forget that one, I don’t think!) There is something special about having stories together. I love to keep those stories alive by telling them back to the kids as well as by sharing them with others. One of my favorite ways to share my stories is by telling them at school. I know how important it is for kids to know how to tell their own stories, so I show them how to do it by telling mine. When I can make them laugh, or sigh in sadness over a story that I’ve told, I remind them that they are storytellers as well. They can get the same reactions from their audience when they tell or write their stories well. I want them to know that they have stories worth telling. I want them to know the joy of telling a story well. And I want them to know that there is power in storytelling—it brings us closer together and reminds us of what we treasure in each other. I love telling my stories, and I love knowing that the kids who have heard them remember what we shared. One of my favorite moments of the week? Floating in the pool with a group of middle school girls and introducing them to my family–only to have one of them look suspiciously at my brother and ask “Is HE the one who jumped out at you in the basement?” He considers that some of his best “brother” work, and I consider the fact that those girls remember that story five years later some of mine. We all need to keep telling our stories, for they are our treasures.