Unlocking holiday magic: Crafting captivating stories from your treasures this Christmas

Dec 23, 2023
Source: Getty Images.

Christmas can be the time to write

With Christmas looming, not everyone will be rushing around like headless chooks seeking gifts to satisfy, nor need to do a big food shop. Many will have more time on their hands than ever waiting for other family members to fulfill their duties or may simply live alone.

Retired, we have time to be flexible, time to address the passions within. From the hundreds of people I speak with many say Christmas is when they feel most alone and my response is to utilise that emotion by writing.

Someone will be interested

Their immediate reply is “I don’t know what to write about or where to begin”, or “No one will be interested when I am gone”. This is where my mind goes into overdrive. There is so much to write about staring us in the face in every room where we live. Everything we see or do has a story. There will always be someone interested if not now, then later whether it be family, friends or someone of curiosity who will find your stories interesting, if not fascinating

At this age of my life, I have a deeper urge to tell my endless list of stories before I die. My time is getting shorter and my list of stories is longer. Writing them down is the only way to capture those thoughts in our heads. It is the best therapy, you are leaving something for others that is part of history.

Start by sitting and looking

The question and barrier for many budding writers is where to start. I have a simple method that works. Begin with one room at a time. Sit down look around and see what catches your eye. Sitting in my lounge last week I focused on many pieces on display and smiled. Umpteen stories are sitting on my shelves that very few would know about. I am not talking about books but my collection of ornaments. How I came about them, where they originated, who gave them to me, what they mean to me.

Just write

Don’t stress if you don’t type or have a computer. An A4 or A5 notepad and pen will get you going. Even loose sheets of loose paper will suffice, you can staple them together later (in the early days my father would use small pins to hold the sheets together). Choose any room you fancy, and from where you are sitting, look at something that catches your eye. Think about its origins. How and why it is sitting there in the first place? Don’t think about how to start, begin by describing what you are looking at and let your mind take you on the journey.

The stories in a room

I could easily produce a thick book of short stories from my collections. For example, I look at the handmade dolls my parents produced, now sitting in a glass cabinet. My father produced the ceramic heads and limbs from wooden moulds, my mother crafted the outfits for every doll. For one outfit, Mum had reused exquisite Chinese fabric from a figure-hugging dress she once wore to parties.

A statue of David and his girlfriend I purchased in Italy with my then-boyfriend. Well, what a story I could write about on that one and him! Two gorgeous vases hand painted by friends in Chile I had met after we climbed Mt Vellarica before it erupted. A large wooden carved figurine from Thailand kneels on my side table praying, sitting beside a set of Russian dolls gifted by a friend when she returned to see her family in Russia. Photographs of my daughter’s wedding in the dress I made for her, panicking the day before her wedding to adjust her dress as she lost so much weight. We lived apart interstate when I was sewing her dress.

The conch shell my dear friends from Chicago gifted me when we sailed around the British Virgin Islands. Even though I declared it to customs, I am registered on their system as I found out retrospectively, that Australia does not support sea bed mining. An Australian Darcy Doyle limited edition print hangs on my wall gifted by my Canadian friend, as do other prints from my visits to Greece and the UK.

My original paintings on indigenous art, another classic painted in the late 1800’s early 1900’s called The Swag. The cane chair I had as a child, now full of signed books,

There is so much more. Behind each piece there are greater stories on how I acquired them, where I was located at the time, the character of the person who gifted the pieces, how I was feeling, how I was being treated and what happened behind the scenes.

If I wrote about every item in my collection, I could complete more than one novel or memoir. Christmas gifts have a story. It may be the gift you receive and think oh heavens what will I do with this? Describe the gift, the person who gave it to you, the expressions on their face, how you felt and what you did with it.

My daughter’s sister-in-law gifted me a beautiful T2 mug with an internal tea strainer. Little did they know on retirement I had reverted to using loose tea leaves in a teapot but hated wasting tea from making up a full pot each time. Her gift was perfect. I didn’t realise you could buy cups like this. Needless to say, it has become my morning goto cup.

Everything has a story

I guarantee once you begin writing about an item and allow your mind to run free, all sorts of images and words will magically appear on paper. Your unconscious mind is then at work and all the fun begins. Happy Christmas and New Year!

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