The Stories of Christmas


“This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas everybody invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather. I was snowed up at a friend’s house once for a week. Nothing could be pleasanter.” (Emma, chapter 13)

This is an excerpt of Mr. Elton’s rapturous remarks in anticipation of the holiday party at the Westons’. We may not like Mr. Elton in general. But, on this occasion, he has the right idea and certainly a better attitude than Mr. John Knightly about venturing out in the snow to accept the generous hospitality of friends (see blog post 7/19/10 entitled Leaving One’s Own Fireside). My family experienced no weather complications this Christmas. Our “friendly meetings” went ahead as planned, with me taking my turn both as hostess and as invited guest.

When I thought about drawing a writing-related principle from these holiday gatherings, it occured to me how many instances of story telling had transpired over the last few days. My mother announced she’s begun recording an account of her life growing up. My husband shared an anecdote, something that happened to him years ago. My cousin, who has a passion for genealogy, displayed a restored photo of our mutual great great grandparents, telling what she’s learned about their life long ago in Norway. I read the Christmas story to my two-year-old granddaughter from a children’s Bible. My mother-in-law gave me two paperback novels, ones she enjoyed herself. Laughing aloud, my son viewed video of friends playing party games, as recorded on my daughter-in-law’s cell phone.

It’s all story-telling. Through one medium or another (ancient oral traditions to electronic-age technologies), it’s been a part of human existence since the beginning. Passing along practical knowledge and hard-won life experience can be viewed purely as a species survival skill. But what of memoir, humor, and all forms of fiction? Do they play an important role in our survival as well? Is that why we have an innate drive to share these forms of communication too? I don’t have the answers. I only know that the tapestries of our lives would be less richly textured without them.

Blessings to each of you this Christmas. May you celebrate this special day with your friends about you and with wonderful stories to tell.

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in Jane Austen, life, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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