When Chris Lundy was younger, he saw Christmas presents from his mother as a reflection of his self-worth.
So things went badly when he was 17 and received a cheap-looking T-shirt that he thought looked like it came from the corner pharmacy.
“I hated it,” the Baltimore resident said of the cream-colored T-shirt featuring a majestic lion with in the foreground and African plains in the background. “Not only because the gift was low-value, but because I had a good year and felt I deserved a commensurate gift.”
Lundy had stayed out of trouble, was doing his chores, and was doing well in school and at extracurricular activities.
“I was on the honor roll with a high GPA,” he said “I was captain of the football and tennis team. I was in student government as the senior class vice president, and I was doing well in ROTC. I also worked a few hours at K-Mart (to earn) spending money, which took some burden off of my mother.”
He just thought he deserved more.
Then, the next year, his mother died.
Now her gift holds special meaning.
“That gift she gave me — the one I hated and resented — transformed into my favorite possession,” he said. “Although nothing changed about the gift itself, its sentimental value continued to grow over the years.”
Lundy will share his personal story on Dec. 15 as part of the USA TODAY Network’s Storytellers Project show, “Holidays.” Tune in online at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET for five true, personal stories. Register in advance to receive a reminder and watch on USA TODAY’s Facebook page, YouTube channel or website.
Lundy will be joined by:
- Jasmine Crowe of Atlanta, Georgia
- Liz Warren, 67, of Phoenix, Arizona
- Sean Wellington, 50, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Denise Lopez, 39, of Phoenix, Arizona
Warren, director of South Mountain Community College’s Storytelling Institute in Arizona, will share a story about food evoking memories that transport us back in time and her regrets over buying a prepared meal for Thanksgiving in 2020 during the pandemic.
“Being a storyteller, I imagined just how wonderful it was going to be …
“But, of course, reality was very, very different and I ended up sadder than if we’d just made grilled cheese,” she said.
At Christmas, Warren had a shot at redemption and poured her heart into the turkey’s gravy.
“Just one taste of that golden goodness and I’m transported through time — back to the last time I made it with my dad, to the first time my husband was at Thanksgiving, to the time my mom forgot to turn on the stove and maybe even back before my own life.”
Lopez will look back on Christmases spent with her grandparents, who made it a magical time, and she’ll talk about how she keeps their traditions alive.
“Even though there were some bumps in the road, I think I’ve made them proud in the end,” she said.
Wellington’s story centers on the loneliness he experienced at the holidays and his attempt to feel better by helping others.
“I decided to drive around my neighborhood giving away socks to those who may need them,” he said. “And with some of those people, I had conversations. I felt a little better. But then, I met a homeless family.”
That unsheltered family had something that Wellington had longed for.
“I appreciate having a home, but the family — that’s something I no longer have and something that I want,” he said.
Crowe will share a story about her surprise in learning a friend was facing food insecurity, and how it inspired her to launch Goodr, a multi-million-dollar business based in Atlanta that connects restaurants and nonprofits that feed the hungry.
In the last four years, Crowe says she has helped divert more than 12 million pounds of food surplus to people in need. She has also helped bring a free grocery store and clothing store to McNair Middle School in College Park, Georgia, and self-published the children’s book “Everybody Eats” to teach kids about food waste and its impact on the environment.
WATCH: Episodes from the Storytellers Project
Learn more about the Storytellers Project and apply to tell a story in 2022 at https://www.storytellersproject.com/tell/.
Need to know
Where: The Storytellers Project’s Facebook Page, YouTube channel and website.
When: Dec. 15, 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET
More: Watch past virtual shows on YouTube and recorded in-person shows on the Storytellers Project’s website.
2022 season announced
Join the Storytellers Project in 17 cities for in-person shows. Tickets are on sale now and applications are being accepted for people from each community to share their stories on stage.