Reframing a Christmas Story of Babushka
by Helen M Sant

How choosing to tell stories of hope are as good for the storyteller, as the audience!

A few weeks ago, I was a guest storyteller on a community radio show for East Leeds FM, with poet Helen Burke. The theme was all things Christmas, and I had agreed to tell a relevant story. My thoughts strayed to the folk-tale Babushka, which I have told on many occasions.
The story is about a mature lady who cleans regularly. She encounters the three magi on their way to see the star. In my story, they’re astrologers, because the Bible tells us they were following a star and makes it very clear that they attached great meaning to it, foretelling a birth.
In the traditional version, Babushka is too silly to travel with the magi or astrologers. She tells them she has to stay home and clean. Thus, she misses the opportunity to see the Christ child and is forever after searching.
Thinking about how wistful the story is, I dared not tell it. I was going to be live on the radio (well I am usually live somewhere, but somehow this seemed worse!) I was terrified that I would burst into tears. This Christmas is a very emotional one for me, regarding family matters, as my father is terminally ill. There was no way I could tell that story.
I knew that I really wanted to tell it though, and so I put it to my creative mind. I realised I still could. All I needed to do was change the ending slightly. So I practised it once in private, before the show and I felt sure I could do it. And I did. Mostly unrehearsed, you can hear my new, positive version of the folklore tale, which only required a few tweaks here and there to change the ending. You can hear my version Russian Christmas story by listening from: 30:15.


I felt more confident as a result and calmer on the air than I ever have before. It was also great being able to take a story and to make a female character into someone stronger.
Storytelling and tales are often a microcosm of the world we live in. That’s why vocal storytelling is so powerful.
The moral of this story is that we can change our life stories too, with a little tweak here and there. It’s easy to despair when things don’t go our way, but if we can just stop for one second, pull ourselves back, we can turn it around. We don’t have to go down the same path towards loss and grief. There is always hope. All we have to do is look at things in a different and gentler way. We have to open our eyes to all the opportunities there are instead of telling ourselves there are none. The mind responds well to encouragement. Let’s give it to ourselves!
Though it seems so hard, once you start to practise this idea regularly, it is much easier than living with the pain of putting yourself down or feeling stuck. I’ve come through a lot of things in my life to reframe my story and I know it’s possible from practical, real examples.

I wish you all the best for 2015 and may you create happy, happy stories!

Helen M Sant


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