And, of course, one good story begets another. So next a middle-aged married couple tells the story of one of their first dates. After one too many falls in the snow while cross-country skiing, the young grad student's corduroy pants ripped open in the very worn seat.
Every good story must have some tension or trouble. With two people wanting to make a good first impression, what first date doesn't have tension? A good story must also surprise us and release the tension, like the universe reminding us, "Oh, c'mon, lighten up!"
These are the stories we love, the ones we tell over and over and over again, adding more details as we go, how the mother reacted when the daughter called her to tell the story ("How can anyone have an accident like THAT on a first date?!"). The stories we tell at the wedding and at the anniversary, the stories that make us laugh so hard we cry.
What stories do you tell at Christmas? How many of your favorites involve some type of tension, some unexpected, embarrassing and comical mishap? At the darkest time of the year, and in the darkest times of our lives, we crave the stories that literally help us to lighten up.