I have had a wonderful week of storytelling. It all started last Monday night at Grace Community Choir’s Christmas party when 40 people, who love to sing, came together to celebrate the Holy Season in song and story. Now I knew that these wonderful people could sing, but storytellers?

Hubs and I started the storytelling session with a true experience about a time when the sheep in our live nativity children’s play disappeared. I mean like, whish and they were gone. Oh, good grief – these were borrowed sheep and I had almost sworn an oath to bring them home safe and sound.

What to do? What to do? You see our small southern Baptist church was lo-o-ow budget and I had made that promise to return the little sheep family safely home. I caught Hubs eye and asked, “How much do sheep cost?” It wasn’t looking good, but the Eastern Star shone upon them gathered in the piney woods next to the church and it all worked out.

After our story, Margaret Remy had one from her childhood, how when her parents were next door on Christmas Eve at the neighbors and Margaret had gone to bed, but not asleep. She was situated where she could keep an eye on the Christmas tree. To this day she is bewildered as to how a special gift was left for her that night, something she had desperately wanted (a wristwatch), like the package wasn’t there one minute and within a blink of the eye appeared. Ah, so is the magic of Christmas.

Next Ken Allen shared a story about the generosity of his father during a particularly cold Christmas Eve night. You see Ken had asked for a Red Ryder bee bee gun and his dad had started to the store on Christmas Eve morning to make the purchase, without Ken’s knowledge, of course. However his dad return empty-handed and called to Ken to load firewood in the back of the wagon. After the wood was piled high, the two turned onto the road toward a widow’s home. She had several small children. They were found inside huddled together trying to stay warm.

The widow met them at the door and Ken and his dad went inside and built a big fire in the fireplace, then piled the remaining wood outside the door. Once that was done, father and son continued to town and purchased oranges, apples, nuts, plus toys for the children and a few essentials, like cornmeal and salt. These were dropped off at the widow’s house on the way back home.

Ken’s dad explained to him what had happened. He said as he started for town to buy Ken’s bee bee gun, he saw the widow and children and immediately recognized their great need. The money for Ken’s gift was spent for things for the desperate family.

The next day Ken’s family invited the widow and children for Christmas dinner. Ken said it was one of the best Christmases of his life even though he didn’t receive the gun. The good deed taught him the true meaning of Christmas and all of these years later, he is grateful for the experience.

Yes, choir members are storytellers!

On Wednesday, I traveled to Fellowship Baptist Church as the invited storyteller guest for the Senior Christmas Luncheon. I told several Christmas stories (all true) from my experiences, but probably the most popular was my mother’s story.

As a child during the mean years of the Great Depression, my mother and her younger sister (4 & 5 years old), dreamed of a visit from Ole Santa on Christmas Eve night, but their parents were desperate just to pay the property taxes, due by December 31, as was much of America. But again it worked out, when their financial troubles were solved with the sale of an old car which had belonged to my mother’s grandparents. With the proceeds, the taxes were paid. But what about the little girls, you might ask?

Early Christmas Eve morning it just so happened that a neighbor stopped by with two fuzzy kittens. My grandmother fashioned a fancy ribbon for their necks from the edge of an old crocheted pillowcase. Yes, Santa did make a stop at their house, after all.

Saturday, I will tell stories for children at Soulé’s Santa’s Workshop, 4-8 pm. Please bring your children and grandchildren for this uniquely Mississippi Christmas Event.

Anne B McKee is a Mississippi historian, writer and storyteller. She is listed on the Mississippi Humanities Speakers Bureau and Mississippi Arts Commission’s Performing Artist and Teaching Artist Rosters. See her web site: www.annemckeestoryteller.com

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