Unwrapping the Gift of Stories

By Marilynn Huseby, Senior Resource Consultant

[December 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Marilynn Huesby, Senior Resources Consultant]

What is most memorable about the holidays? The stories we have collected through the years. The stories shared around a Thanksgiving dinner table about children’s antics or other family adventures. Stories of the surprise gift that was passed on for years. Remember the O. Henry story set in the 1900s of The Gift of the Magi? Where the husband sells his family pocket watch to purchase hair combs for his wife’s beautiful hair, but his wife has cut her hair to give him a platinum fob chain for his watch? The Magi were the prophets that traveled great distances to give gifts to Jesus and these stories started the tradition of holiday giving.

With each year as we age, we find the holidays become a different experience. With loved ones no longer with us and children living far away, we wonder how we could recapture the delight of togetherness and sharing. This is the season of giving, a season of celebrating abundance and gratitude for what life has given each of us.

A full life of experiences and stories to share may resemble one told in a past storytelling circle by a strong but quiet male volunteer at the Senior Center lunches.  He shared a story of a Christmas when he was first in school and every person attending the school came to the auditorium, while each child was invited on stage to receive an orange as a gift. An orange was very precious during the depression. As his story touched me deeply, so did it touch others. The memories of holidays around World Wars I and II and the depression came rolling into the center of the circle. This is the beauty of stories, as they open a person up for us to glimpse the real life of experiences they have gathered.

My story of finally getting to know my father was around the holidays as well. I had never really known my dad, as he was a cancer research surgeon and the director of two hospitals. Luckily, I had four brothers that did know him around their hunting and fishing adventure stories. I got to know him in the last seven years of his life, when he was mostly in a chair. I noticed one Christmas that he was becoming hard of hearing, so I thought to buy him a boombox CD player that would sit on the table by his chair. Along with that I gave him four CDs of 1930s and ‘40s music. Upon my return for New Years I discovered he had found a way to order 60 CD’s of music he loved as well. Who knew my dad was a music lover? My most blessed memories were of him and me singing along with all those wonderful artists. How about Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Hoagy Carmichael? And there we were singing “Georgia On My Mind” and “Ol’ Rockin’ Chair Blues.” Along with the music came the stories, a wealth of memories like forgotten things in the back of a drawer that—when you find one memory—the rest come tumbling out as well.

This is the magic gift of a Story Circle.

The volunteers at the Pavilion Senior Center have storytelling circles around the holiday tree and we again would like to invite everyone of all ages to come. Bring a favorite story or come and listen. Because when we share, the abundance of our life spills out and inspires many others who then remember stories they have kept. It’s a rich holiday chain reaction .

Come and enjoy the Story Circle with us Monday, December 16th, at 1 P.M. at the Montrose Pavilion Senior Center, 1800 Pavilion Drive at the east entrance. There will be refreshments and warmth for all.