Friday, December 24, 2021

Storytelling is Part of Who We Are

courtesy of AboveTopSecret

Almost as basic as sharing food together, storytelling is part of the human experience. You could even say this essential communication is part of our DNA. Since cave people days, humans have gathered around a campfire and shared the events of their days—first with gestures and then with words. A recent article dates this gathering as early as 300,000 years ago. Back from a hunt, the successful expert shared the excitement of the chase and the kill with those who stayed behind and tended the firecooking or tanning or curing─allowing others to feel part of the essential activity that kept the band alive.

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The kitchen became the central part of family life throughout the ages. Even now the clanking of pots and pans or good scents emanating for that room will gather folks close.

I'm experiencing my family’s holiday visit with three generations under the same roof for two weeks, and I hear stories at every turn. Recalling past visits or sharing details of what has transpired since we were last together—as probably with everyone else, the pandemic disrupted the 2020 holiday season─is one way we “know” each other. When I write, I always keep these cherished visits in mind. Setting the majority of my stories in the past when we didn’t fight the pull of technology and electronic devices allows me to focus on the characters’ struggles to become acquainted.

As we gather in whatever size group we’re comfortable with, be sure to listen to the stories around you or open a storybook and start sharing. Because who doesn’t love being read to?

A Christmas Tree for Trudel

Rancher Gibson Bartleigh travels to Pine Knot to investigate how his younger brother was swindled out of his mining claim. He finds the suspect, businessman Bernard Heinrik, at a poker table and squares off opposite him. Gib goads the man into betting big, staking the mining claim and then ends up with the winning hand and retrieves the deed. Goal achieved, he heads back to the hotel, planning how he’ll leave in the morning and arrive triumphant in Redlands at the family home in time for holiday festivities.

Mail-order bride Trudel Arensen traveled from Los Angeles to Pine Knot to meet up with her fiancé, Mister Heinrik, with whom she’s been corresponding for several months. But he’s a day overdue in meeting her. She waits in the hotel lobby with her lace-making materials and her little dog, Butterscotch. Released from the orphanage two months earlier, Trudel has been on her own and terrified she will always be so.

When Gibson realizes he’s the cause for the lovely lady’s misfortune, he’s stuck with a dilemma. If he confesses what he did, he’ll have to offer the woman a ride back to where she came from. Propriety demands they marry, and both agree it’s only for the duration of the trip. But will forced proximity deepen the relationship into something more?

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