The Christmas gift of stories

Dec 21, 2015 | Everything Else

Christmas is a time for getting together with people you love. At my house we’ll share a meal and talk a lot. We’ll share food and we’ll share stories.

Christmas isn’t the only time we do this. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, think about a time when you get together with loved ones to share a meal and a story or two.

Christmas is a time for sharing

A lot of sharing goes on at Christmas. We share gifts with one another. We usually share at least one meal. We share stories, too.

Stories are carriers of memories and culture

One Christmas, my mother shared the story of the time when she gave away my father’s sweater to a hobo. I’ve told that story to my children and grandchildren and to audiences around the world.

There’s something about eating together that seems to bring out the stories. Maybe the dinner table takes the place of long-ago campfires. That makes meals with loved ones a wonderful opportunity to hear and capture stories.

Don’t trust your memory

No matter how good a memory you have, you shouldn’t trust it to remember details a day or a week later. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to trigger your memory of what you heard. My trick is to put a couple of key words on an index card.

Write down the story when you have the opportunity. Clarify details with the storyteller if you need to. I talked to my mother and found out that she gave away my father’s only sweater at the time. I also learned other details that made the story richer.

Capture the stories

My mother died thirty years ago, but her stories are still with us. They are part of her immortality. As my father used to say, “You’re alive as long as they tell stories about you.”