Storytelling: A Christmas Thought for Families

No one managed Christmas better than Andrea. Her Christmas was a legend with children, grandchildren and friends.  Her cakes; her pies; her turkey: all were beyond compare.

Every year she invited a dozen or more people for Christmas dinner.

Every Boxing Day, exhausted but satisfied, she reminded herself how glad she was she’d done it.

Last year, with just two weeks to go, disaster struck. She broke her wrist. What could she do? Desperate, she wrote  an email full of apology with a list of tasks she couldn’t manage herself. She sent it round to everyone she’d invited.

Andrea spent Christmas Day sitting in an armchair, eating food cooked by other people. She hated every moment. She knew the Christmas arrangements she’d planned would have been so much better.

She watched, frustrated, as her guests washed up and put things away in the wrong places. She itched to do it herself.

She looked on as her grandchildren opened presents someone had swathed in clumsy homemade paper. She wished she’d been able to wrap them herself in tasteful perfection, as she’d done every other year.

The day dragged itself wearily to its end.

On Boxing Day, her youngest son stumbled downstairs just before lunch. Sighing noisily, he rubbed his stomach, settling down to another beer and a hunk hewn from the Christmas cake. A bought cake. He’d iced it himself, late on Christmas Eve after a trip to the pub, forgetting to use marzipan. It was yellowing already, Andrea saw.

She could stand it no longer. She breathed deeply, her apology on the tip of her tongue. She’d make it up to them next year, she’d promise. Everything would go back to normal. She’d outdo herself.

Before she had a chance to speak, her son leaned over and ruffled her hair.

“Thanks for everything, Mum,” he grunted. “Best Christmas ever.”

Merry Christmas. If this story made you think, come on over to the Speechcontacts website  to read more about the importance of storytelling.


Iceland: global warming

Chief Executive Alfred Deville surveyed the crowded conference room. As silence fell, he gestured to the vast image of tyrranosaurus rex on the projector. He waved one carefully manicured cloven hoof and smiled, showing pointed teeth. ‘We are finally making progress, team. Our work is beginning to pay off. Just a few millennia ago, we zapped the dinosaurs. Then, after that, we dealt with the dodo.’

The picture changed to a group of pig-tailed sailors chasing a waddling, flightless bird.‘Tasty but dim, I remember,’ said Deville, licking his lips.

Bankers in the front row downloaded the image to their iPads, snickering. Deville changed the scene again.

Planes speared through the sky over a landscape of melting glaciers and smouldering forests.‘My best idea to date,’ boasted Deville. ‘I stole it from the last dragon, who, you remember, melted the North Pole with his dying, fiery breath. Bless him.’

Deville drank in the admiration. Wait. What was this? A new acolyte frowned, puzzled. Deville leaned forward. ‘Before your time, perhaps, young Mr….’ He read the name tag out loud, ’Mr B L Zebub. Interesting name. Well Mr Zebub, I am well aware that the Pole froze over again. Dragons are not perfect, but it did not matter. Already I had my grand plan.’

He waited, timing it. ‘Global warming!’

The tumultuous applause died at last. ‘Air Transport,’ Deville continued, ‘is central to my plans. Every single plane emits enough CO2 to melt the glaciers in, oh, roughly a year or two, I should think.The more planes, the sooner disaster will overtake this pesky planet.’

He waved a hoof vaguely. Detail was not his strong point. He left that to his team. ‘Humans adore their flights, their holidays in the sun, their lunches in Rome. They will never give them up, no matter what their scientists advise. My work is nearly done.’

At the back of the room, unnoticed, Gerald O’Dadd sighed and stroked his long, white beard. He pulled a battered Pocket Atlas from his battered pocket. Quietly he flicked through the book, speed-reading. He stopped at a page marked Iceland.

Gerald O’Dadd thought. He scratched his head. He frowned.

At last he smiled and retrieved a pencil from behind his right ear. He scribbled a note in the margin. ‘Volcanic Eruption.”