Elaine Forrestal

Our Stories are Important

A tree full of stories re-visited each year

Christmas and New Year with their gatherings of friends and families across the world are important times for stories. Times when we build up memories and store them, either in mental compartments or real boxes. These boxes hold stories that are so important to us that we keep them for the rest of our lives. Even if we don’t open the boxes from one year’s end to the next, we know that the stories are there. Accessible, comforting, challenging, even frightening. Often just being able to close the lid on something scary is enough to bring it under control and allow us to deal with it.

One of my best loved boxes holds the stories of Christmas. Every year I bring it down from the top shelf of the hall cupboard, open it up and let the stories come out. Almost immediately I hear my youngest daughter arriving after midnight, tiptoeing into the lounge room and trying to hang four tiny red apples with bells inside on the tree – without waking anyone. That tinkling sound, as I lift the box of Christmas decorations down each year, brings the story so vividly to my mind that it could have happened just a week ago.

She was a teenager then, but the foot-print reindeer and inverted-cone angel that she and her sister made for me, in secret, when they were still in primary school are still taken out of the box each year and hung on the tree. Their stories are told, along with those of precious items from ex-students or Christmas visitors we have included in our celebrations over the years. Every year at least one decoration is added to the tree, either from people whose own families and friends are far away, or from my own grandchildren who are very close. There is never any need for names on these special objects. Each one tells its own unique story. Whether their stories are happy or tinged with sadness, funny or frightful, they are all important and have their own small place in the stories of the world.

Happy holidays and I hope you get to read lots of stories.