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.
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.