It’s Time To Tell Holiday Tales

Have you thought about writing a holiday story?

Photo by Sandra Seitamaa on Unsplash

In my world October 31 ushers in what feels like one big long holiday season: from Halloween, to Guy Fawkes in the UK, to Thanksgiving in the US, and then the headlong rush through Hannukah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, New Year and Lunar New year…and blink! We’re almost at Valentine’s Day!

There’s no doubt these next few months are busy and freighted with expectations (have you thought about your end of year review? Your New Year’s Resolutions? If you’ll send holidays cards? Whose house you’ll go to for which family gathering? What topics are safe to talk about?!)

In simpler times*people used to gather round and tell stories at holiday gatherings.

(*times were never simpler. They were always full of complicated humans with complicated needs)

Holiday Story Traditions

In Dickens’ time ghost stories were in fashion.

Hans Christian Anderson went in for tragic tales of noble poverty.

Nowadays we have the Hallmark Christmas Movie and the Holiday Disaster Film as our new ‘fireside’ traditions.

But have you given any thought to writing a holiday story of your own?

I started doing this a few years ago, sending each year’s story out to friends as an alternative to the dreaded family newsletter. I only sent them to people who I thought would enjoy them, and only when I had a chance to write something I felt good about.

Writing a holiday-themed story is a great way to

  • Get in the mood ahead of time (it’s a good idea to start early)
  • Have something to talk about that’s not politics, religion, or money, when you get to the family gathering
  • Slowly build a collection of stories with a similar theme you could put together in an anthology
  • Have an excuse to get some writing time before the holiday rush starts (or during it).
  • Exorcise the demons of all that socialising, especially if you start writing next year’s story when you get home from a particularly ‘colorful’ event, this year.
  • Always have something on hand for the holiday-themed hungry calls for submission that will start appearing next July.

There are so many tropes and traditions to play with when it comes to Holiday stories, and I’ll be back soon with some ways for you to think about them.

But for now, I must dash and grab some brandy. I’m already late to soak the dried fruit for this year’s Christmas cake…

Have you written holiday stories? What holiday would you choose if you did? What would be your ‘must-have’ ingredients to make truly a holiday story? Leave a comment!

8 thoughts on “It’s Time To Tell Holiday Tales”

  1. This year marks my sixth or seventh year of writing a seasonal winter tale for my readers, and the 5th I’ve been writing one about a particular character, the fantasy world he lives in and how he brings a unique brand of good cheer, healing, and unity to the people of his village at this time of year.

  2. I am in a place and at a time of life when I will be spending Christmas alone with my dog and cat for the first time. I am not sad and won’t be lonely. Will I put up a tree only to have it knocked down by Merlin the cat? Of course I will. Will I make paper ornaments that can’t be smashed?Yep,: origami, here I come. And will I binge-watch every version of A Christmas Carol I can find? Yes, indeed. My dog, Clark, and I will walk at least twice on Christmas Day and see the neat new things the neighborhood children have gotten from Santa, and there will be phone calls to and from family. And I will write of the day as a new Christmas celebration experience (as it is each year),

    As for the feast? Whatever at all I feel like eating.

    Looking forward to that beautiful day. 😊🎄

    1. I LOVE your approach. I can almost picture it from what you’ve written here–and I would love to read the story of Merlin and the ornaments…;)

      And you’re right: it is a new celebration experience every year. Something to look forward to!

  3. I’ve always wanted to write a “better” Christmas story than the ones you see on tv where you have to “save” Christmas. I’m going to do it this year! Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Starting with a model you want to upend is a GREAT way to stay connected to your motivation and actually finish the story. Any time you flag, just think about all those ‘have to save Christmas’ stories that enrage you and get back to your desk with gleeful rebelliousness!

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