The Gift of Stories

Over the weekend, we joined another family to do our traditional Christmas caroling.  I remember doing this with my church in different ways when I was little.  I love seeing the delight on the neighbors faces when we sing.  So, I continue the tradition with my kids.

While we were walking about, my friend Joyce shared about collecting Christmas stories.  I had no idea what she was talking about so I asked her to tell me more….

Joyce shared that her dad was a minister and he would collect Christmas stories throughout the year to help him write his holiday sermons.  As he traveled, he would clip articles from local papers.  I thought this was wonderful.  She shared how she came upon a binder with stories from 2004.  Her father had died in 2006.  The binder even had his 2004 sermon tucked into the pocket. I cherished that she shared this part of her history with me.

The next morning, the doorbell rang.  The dogs rushed to greet our guest with Teddy, our little 11lb Chihuahua mix, dancing and offering yelps to let the guest know he is here.  To our surprise it was Joyce!  With a binder!

She shared she was picking up some things and her father’s binder just happened to be there.  She spent the morning reading the stories with her daughter-in-law.  Instead of putting it on a shelf, she thought to bring it by and pass it on.  She already had copies of the stories.  It was time to share.

My eyes welled with tears of gratitude.  Emily, my daughter quickly sat down and started looking through.  Joyce laughed and noted she got her tendency to re-purpose things from her father as the binder and tabs were recycled from a bank in Minnesota.  I just smiled and nodded… Joyce and I share that reuse mindset.  There was a funny story about chocolates set to the cadence of the Night Before Christmas.  Emily found it… Joyce read it… we laughed.  It was an amazing gift!

We hugged as she left.  My heart is full and we are keeping this binder out for us to enjoy.  When we are ready, we will pass on the gift started by Joyce’s father.  Until then, we have a collection of Christmas stories for us to read together.

Our stories may be collected in recycled binders or shared in a newspaper.  We may share them on Facebook pages or in Instagram posts.  Stories touch the lives of others or are held close for ourselves.  The choice is yours with how you hold your stories.

Looking to dive deeper into your stories? Your Story of Grief does just that… explores memories through narrative, art and grief approaches to reconnect through different approaches of storytelling.  I invite you to learn more at

Learn more about Julie Blackburn and Chartreuse Center, specialized services for grief, infertility and parenting at