I love stories this time of year. Stories with all the trimmings of tales to remind us of the old adage that the real gifts of giving aren’t things. An adage the Amazon giant would have us relegated to forget. Their commercials bringing smiles on a package may be the pillar of a new age of giving takeovers, but they’ll never own the heart of this season. They can have Boxing Day.
One thing we can offer that will never be boxed away is story. Stories are infinite gifts we can give one another. As writers, we ‘gift’ our readers with something that even after it melts away, melds us together. No matter what happens, no matter the course of our lives, a story is boundless.
Recently, a colleague of mine made a statement that tore away at the very notion of this I believe. A statement that I feel is the product of an emptiness that story itself could serve to fill.
“Why waste time on writing stories? What good does it do? It has no real use in this world.”
I suddenly felt like Edward P. Mitchell, the Sun’s editor explaining to Virginia O’Hanlon that indeed, Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus. As a writer of fantasy and fiction, I believe wholeheartedly that stories harbor enigmas that we can’t always explain as eloquently as Edward the editor did here:
“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.”
His words and this story hold true. Story encapsulates a spirit that carries on, in fact, with a unique purpose and imprint in the world that both reader and writer benefit from. No real use? From that framed out point of view, I suppose she’s right. Story has nothing to do with ‘using’ anything other than your imagination and everything to do with an offering of self, creation and love. Conception of story will never be found in a box. For those who find assimilation and comfort in structure and walls, story may never have value, but to take that away from the hearts of the world is to take away one of the greatest gifts we can imbibe. Not to value that is not to value what’s possible or a future with vision. We were given creative conical receptors for a reason and we can bring color into the world with story.
Each nuanced gift can offer purpose and enlightenment. This time of year, let stories drop like snowflakes. Bring a new-fangled art of delivery to drift over the consciousness of a world in need of healing. What could it mean to give a story blanket to warm another in the dark and soothe the shivers to move them through difficult times. Like snowflakes, stories can be rearticulated by every soul they touch. Even after they melt away, the words have already settled in to have a transformative effect on everything and everyone it touches. Don’t hide your stories away in the attic. Bring them out for the world and unwrap the gift that gives of yourself.