Myer Christmas Windows Story 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, the world over. In Melbourne, in early September, it was announced that the much-loved Melbourne tradition of the Myer Christmas Windows, was cancelled. Two weeks later we learned that, with the assistance of the Melbourne City Council, the windows would be happening!

Just a few days later I received a magical phone call, asking if I would write a story. Of course there would be no time for a published book; but there needed to be a story surrounding the ‘simmering’ ideas of using characters and scenes from previous windows – ideas that John Kerr, Director, Stage One, conceptualised in that few days between the windows being back on and the call to me. This enormous task, which normally takes up to 12 months, had to be achieved in 6 weeks! 

The first thing that occurred to me was that the city of Melbourne needed a story which would help it move forward, towards recovery. Early the next morning I woke with ideas buzzing and began making notes. I felt strongly that the words for these windows had to be sincere, as right now the people of Melbourne need honesty. The words, ‘It’s Christmas After All’ came through loud and strong to me. After all infers that after all we’ve been through, in spite of the hard times, the struggles, the sickness and the suffering, Christmas is still being celebrated by our city, by the Melbourne people and by Myer. The windows are ‘after all’ the beating heart of our beautiful city at Christmas.

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The message for me, is that nothing will stop ‘us’. The tradition is still happening and this is a chance to look back on and remember what has been before – the stories we shared and celebrated, the characters we met, the windows we loved most, and the moments we remember. Nothing good is ever forgotten, so we are dusting off those memories, those familiar windows characters – they are coming back to visit and we will meet them again.

Quite separately, and serendipitously, a few months ago I purchased a second-hand copy of the book, Sidney Myer, by Ambrose Pratt. On the dust jacket it says, ‘This is the story of Sidney Myer, the penniless migrant who founded an Australian merchandising empire.’ Within the Foreword, by Robert G. Menzies, 1936, Menzies states that Sidney Myer’s motto was ‘When in doubt, go forward’ and this line remained with me in writing the story for these windows.

My brief included the story to be in rhyme, but given the limitations of sets and characters, which needed to be broad, I ended up with part rhyme and what I hope is a lovely mix of alliteration and assonance. It took 70 + intense hours.

I keep thinking of little children, wide-eyes shining, staring into the windows, while their parents read them the story – what an honour it is to travel this road again.

Last Saturday the windows opened, in a quieter way than previous years because of social-distancing limitations. But they are open now with Covid-safe restrictions happening, hand sanitizer on hand, 1.5 metre distancing spots and both security guards and Myer personnel making sure everyone adheres to the rules.

The windows are open from 7.30 a.m. – 10.30 p.m. each day through to December 24th.

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Comments

  1. Amanda Cooper Corrine, this is so amazing and wonderful. I’m tearing up reading how this happened and how you approached writing the story. I cannot wait until the weekend to go in and see the windows. Congratulations. ?
    November 18, 2020 at 6:05 pm · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Thanks so much, Mandy. There seem to be a few tears tumbling. Melbourne is worth it.
      November 18, 2020 at 8:55 pm · Reply
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    Christine Bell How wonderful for Melbourne and us all! Congratulations, Corinne, on both the deserved honour of being chosen to write the story and on the fantastic achievement by you all of having it ready in six weeks. xx
    November 24, 2020 at 11:31 am · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Thank you Chris. It's surprising what we can do with a deadline!
      November 25, 2020 at 8:59 am · Reply
  3. Jenny Williams Dear Corinne, my husband, mother, daughter and I just visited the windows and they are an absolute delight. How wonderful for the people of Melbourne to come back to the city, continue traditions and support traders. We do hope you are still able to publish the story in a book. Thank you so much. Take care.
    December 6, 2020 at 9:43 am · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Hi Jenny and family, What a lovely message to receive on my website. I'm so glad you enjoyed the windows. It was an enormous challenge for everyone involved and I do hope the story will bring people back in to enjoy our beautiful city. I have no idea what area of Melbourne you live in, but on Saturday 12th at 11.00 a.m. I'm having a book lunch for my book called One Lone Swallow, at Collins Booksellers in Croydon. Details are on their website but please come back to me if you would like to join us. I will also be talking about my experience with writing the windows stories and the event will be held outside the bookshop. Thank you and best wishes, Corinne
      December 7, 2020 at 3:57 pm · Reply
  4. Jenny Williams Hi Corrine, thank you for the invitation to your launch which I am disappointed to miss. My daughter and I have loved the other windows stories you have been involved with. My extended family are all heading away to rural Victoria tomorrow for a weekend away to celebrate my mother’s birthday. We are all very excited to be getting away! If you do a launch Bayside way I would love to attend. Thanks Jenny
    December 10, 2020 at 6:20 pm · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Thank you so much Jenny.
      December 12, 2020 at 7:08 am · Reply
  5. Erin Pieters Hi Corrine, We adored the windows this year. Such a beautiful story and the whole concept was so perfectly put together. Just wondering if there are any plans to turn it into a book? I’d love to have it to read to my children in the years to come so they don’t forget what a tough year we all managed to get through.
    December 11, 2020 at 9:35 am · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Thank you so much Erin. At the moment there are no plans for a book. Unfortunately, it was all so last minute, there was no time to have a book published. Thanks so much for contacting me. Corinne
      December 12, 2020 at 7:09 am · Reply