Storm Home

by Kathy on November 26, 2011 · 5 comments

in Background, Coping, Family, Holidays, Inspiration, Life, Memories, NaBloPoMo, Peace

This weekend we have started putting up Christmas decorations in our new home. It is starting to feel more like wintertime. Usually while preparing our home for the holidays we play Christmas songs to help us get into the spirit of the season. This year it has been especially nice that our son Sean has been able to help us more with things like decorating our Christmas tree and Abby seems to be more able to understand and join in the “festivities.”

Another thing that always helps to get me in the mood for winter and the holiday season is to listen to a classic story told by Garrison Keillor from A Prairie Home Companion called “Storm Home.”

For most of my childhood and adolescence I recall my dad making audio tape recordings of A Prairie Home Companion every week on Saturday evenings from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. (CST) on NPR. He would then listen to the recordings of his favorite radio show later that night or in the days to follow. If there was a part of the show that week that he especially enjoyed, he would often play it for my mom and sometimes my sister and I too. 

At the time I didn’t fully appreciate why he liked listening to A Prairie Home Companion so much. But as I have gotten older, I understand more why people are drawn to Garrison Keillor, his incredibly soothing voice, his antics and his gift for story telling.

When I was in high school, back in the early 1990’s, I attended and helped to plan and facilitate some Operation Snowball weekend retreats. During the closing session of the weekend retreat every year one of the adult staff members, who also happened to be a family counselor that my family knew and had a relationship with, would play Garrison Keillor’s “Storm Home” story, which was an excerpt from one of his weekly “News from Lake Wobegon” segments on A Prairie Home Companion.

If you are familiar with A Prairie Home Companion, you know that Lake Wobegon is a fictitious town in Minnesota that Garrison created in his vivid imagination and has shared stories about for years. His stories are amusing and heart warming, they make listeners laugh and cry as they find out what has “happened in Lake Wobegon over the past week.”  

In this particular story Garrison shares about a way that he uses to “quiet himself down” when he gets scared. He talks about when he was child and attended a school that was a good distance from his home how each student was assigned a “storm home” that they could go to after school if and when there was a blizzard that hit during the school day that would make it difficult for them to get to their own homes safely. 

Though Garrison shares that he never actually got to go to this “Storm Home” because all of the blizzards of his childhood were “convenient” ones that took place on the weekends and at nighttime, he tells of how he imagined what it would be like to spend time at his “Storm Home,” with the couple that lived there and he had been assigned to stay with in the case of a storm. Garrison says that just knowing his “Storm Home” existed and that he could go there if he needed to was extremely comforting to him.

Towards the end of the story, Garrison talks about how we all have “Storm Homes” that help us to quiet ourselves and bring us comfort during scary, difficult and uncertain times in our lives. He shares how important our imaginations can be to help us cope with our fears and make us feel safe when we need to. 

In this story Garrison makes analogies to places that share characteristics to his “Storm Home” in many well known and classic stories, such as Mr. Zuckerman’s Farm in Charlotte’s Web. He talks about how therapeutic it can be to be able to *escape* to those places when we need to find comfort and feel safe.

Listening to “Storm Home” at the end of our Operation Snowball retreats is a favorite adolescent memory of mine and to this day when I need to find comfort and quiet my mind I will listen to Garrison’s calming and peaceful voice as he tells me once again about the place in his imagination that that he has loved to think about over the years.

Do you have anything in particular that you do to comfort and quiet yourself during scary, difficult, uncertain and/or stressful times in your life? What places in your life or your imagination have served as “Storm Homes” for you?

Last week I wrote this post about my “happy places” in which I shared about some of the “storm homes” in my life and imagination.

If you haven’t heard Garrison’s story “Storm Home” or want to listen to again, you can do so by clicking on the video below. I hope that listening to it brings you the peace and comfort that is has brought me over the years.

I wish you and yours a peaceful evening and a wonderful winter/holiday season.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny November 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Thanks for sharing this. 🙂


2 Damita November 27, 2011 at 6:55 am

Thank you for this 🙂


3 Ann November 27, 2011 at 7:18 am

Nice, I like the little funny part about the Catholics ; ) I have a lot of things that give me comfort around the holidays but what came to mind while reading you post was my somewhat distant Irish dad and how every Saturday when I was growing up he would sit in his office and listen to traditional Irish music on an am station. I can remember listening in the next room and stealing a little "connection" to him.


4 loribeth November 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I will have to listen to that later. : ) I havent' read or listened to a lot of Garrison Keillor, but I am certainly familiar with him. : ) In the last few years, Sam & I have started listening to the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean on CBC Radio on Sundays at noon, & I would say there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between him & Garrison Keillor & A Prairie Home Companion.

My mother is a from a small town in Minnesota, so I can relate to Lake Wobegon. ; )


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