Stories Round the Tree conjured pictures of a cosy fireside, a jolly Christmas tree and friendly folk – big and small – gathered round to listen in peace while the storytellers weave their magic. As an antidote to snow-caused chaos on the roads and Christmas-shopping-induced chaos on the streets, I was really looking forward to this.
The venue was the Storytelling Court at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, an appropriately-sized open space, dominated by the fabulous tree in front of the window. Two chairs for the storytellers were positioned next to the tree, with large, comfy cushions scattered at their feet for the wee ones to lounge about on. The adults sat on benches or chairs behind the children – and so, marginally separated from the excited youngsters, my first truly peaceful hour of Christmas began.
Sylvia Troon told the story of the Elves and the Shoemaker with a lilting, lyrical tone that calmed and soothed. The story was brought gently to life using puppets, an occasional repeated refrain played on the recorder and a simple song, sang softly by the elves as they worked. At the end of the story, the little cold elves (we can all sympathise!) were given their new outfits in what may have been the first ever Christmas stockings. Christmas was thereby neatly woven into a classic tale that also contains the seasonal message of good-will to all.
Donald Smith, with the help of his little friend Michael, the mouse, then told a story that had the nativity – and Michael - at its core. Michael goes to visit the baby Jesus but the stable is guarded by a fierce cat called Tiger, who doesn’t like Michael. The children were kept engaged with some interactive moments and hints of Tom and Jerry that added a new twist to the Christmas tale.
We finished this gentle hour singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and stepped out into the cold once more feeling serene in the face of the hoards that were teeming towards us down the Royal Mile.
One for the younger ones, but a welcome break from the Christmas hustle and bustle for all.
"Stories Round the Tree is part of a programme of festive storytelling events at the Scottish Storytelling Centre