Come, gather around the fire and I'll tell you the story I told at our family winter dinner.
When I was 16 my mother, who always gave special birthday gifts, asked me if I would like to choose my own this year, now that I was growing up. She took me to a jeweller's shop, where I found what I wanted more than anything in the world: a paua shell brooch. It was circular, with a sterling silver surround, and I loved it very much.
For over fifty years I treasured that brooch. I loved the iridescent blues and greens, and the way they reminded me of the sea.
In November last year, I pinned the brooch on to my jacket lapel and set off for choir practice. I walked up First Street, crossed the busy main road, and walked down Second Street to the rendez-vous for our carpool. After enjoying a good sing, I looked down at my jacket and discovered that the brooch was gone. Everyone looked under their chairs and around the room, but no luck.
Despite searching the pavements the next day, reporting the loss to the local police, and getting a notice put in the community newspaper, I realised that it was probably gone for good.
I tried one more thing: I printed out a big notice saying 'Lost Paua Shell Brooch, a precious gift from my mother, who died some years ago', and I stuck it to trees, lamp-posts and letterboxes all along the route that I'd taken that night.
I was lost in sadness, feeling the loss not only of the brooch, but of my dear mother too.
But when you lose something, a door may open for something to be found that you didn't expect.
That's what happened to me. Stay warm in front of the fire, and in Part Two I'll tell you about it.