My family and I sometimes volunteer to clean our local chapel before Sunday services. It isn’t a task my kids exactly relish, but we feel it’s an important lesson in service. A couple of weeks ago, as we began this task and the kids were moaning and groaning, I told them a story about Christmas spiders to inspire them to cheerfully clean.
The legend goes that a housewife was cleaning her home to prepare for Christmas day and dusting away all the cobwebs in the corners. That night, the spiders that had been chased away by her broom returned and saw a beautiful Christmas tree in the home. They were so filled with joy that they crawled all over it to examine it closely. But this left dusty cobwebs all over the tree.
When Saint Nicolas arrived, he saw the joy the spiders found in the beautiful tree, but he knew the housewife would be dismayed to find her tree covered in dingy cobwebs. So, he turned the webs to gold and silver. That’s why we use tinsel on our Christmas tree.
Well, my story worked, and the kids were excited to chase after the church’s cobwebs with their dusters that day.
In thinking about this post, I remembered that Christmas legend, and realized how much I use folktales, myths, and legends to inspire my own writing.
I’ve enjoyed reading about old stories since I was a child and got hold of my dad’s elementary reader with the old-fashioned illustrations and the brittle pages. My favorites are the lesser-known stories from obscure cultures. I think I’ve crammed my head so full of stories over the course of my life that when I sit down to write, elements of those stories get woven in without me even consciously realizing it.
Legends and myths offer a gold mine of ideas for the studious writer. Not only do they often teach important life lessons, but they are full of colorful characters and enchanting situations that can capture the interest of young and old alike. Besides all that, they’re just plain fun to read.
I want to wish all of our readers, and my fellow Emblazoners, a very Merry Christmas and joyful New Year! I hope you and your family feel the spirit of love and peace that make this my favorite season of the year.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Christmas story to write.
“It was a cold, drafty day in the cottage as Bernard wrapped up the fly he’d just caught in his web to save for Christmas dinner …”