Christmas Stones and the Story Chair
Christmas Stones pays homage to a simpler time and place. Author Justin Isherwood recounts his family’s tradition of offering Christmas “stones” or stories in lieu of gifts. One by one, his uncles and even sometimes an aunt, would sit on the much revered and decorated story chair to unwind a tale, a mixture of reality and fantasy, hopefully with just the right amount of adventure and blood, for a rapt audience of family members. The crucial element of every story was the stone each storyteller brought to the chair.
Of course, each stone was “no ordinary stone,” as would be revealed during the course of the narrative. All activity in the house would come to a standstill during story time. It’s no wonder, since each storyteller would practice all year for the coming offering in hopes of outdoing the others.
Isherwood successfully conveys the magical feeling of being the listener and the anticipation with which each story was met. In recreating his childhood Christmases, he reminds the reader that in modern times, Christmas has become much more about giving and receiving “stuff” than about coming together for a multigenerational family celebration. Perhaps if enough people read this whimsical, endearing collection of stories, he will be instrumental in righting the course of things.