Writing through the Holidays
By Lisa Acerbo
Holiday traditions, family dinners, legends and lore can all fuel a writer’s imaginings. Going beyond the basic Christmas tree and turkey with trimmings common this time of year, there are many additional customs that could inspire a short story, a novel, or an interesting character.
Food is a central ingredient of the holidays. I remember building gingerbread houses with my daughter and leaving cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer, but what if one year Santa got sick on the cookies and became grumpy? What if the reindeer had one too many treats? And don’t forget Krampus, the scary, horned figure from folklore in some parts of Europe that punishes bad children during the Christmas season. I’d love to see Santa and Krampus battle it out in epic comic book style.
There is also that curious creature roaming the house at night and causing mischief. The elf on the shelf serves as Santa’s spy. He’s been sent to keep an eye on children and report back to Santa when they sleep. But that means there’s a creepy miniature man dressed in red and green roaming around the house, watching spying for days before the holidays come to fruition. The story potential is endless, and they don’t have to all be sweet and candy filled. Think Chucky from Child’s Play.
The holidays should be full of happiness, and stories can express that with fun and whimsical themes. Think back to those letters to Santa. What if they were intercepted by someone or something and knew what you really wanted for the holidays? And I love reading all those holiday cards I get in the mail, but mine go out late each year. In fact, I just ordered them. But what if something happened to everyone who received a card from you? Good or bad, it can be all in the way you spin the tale.
There are so many other areas of the holidays to explore. Every year growing up I attended The Nutcracker or the Christmas Carol. As a child, I didn’t always enjoy the production and would sneak off to the bathroom. What if one of the characters found me there? The same for those classic books like The Polar Express or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. How much fun would it be if one of those characters became a character in your own story?
Finally, let’s not forget that besides the angel-topped, tinsel-covered tree there are some other important plants such as poinsettia and mistletoe. Poinsettia, native to Mexico, holds an significant place in the Christmas holiday. The original story goes that on Christmas Eve a poor child did not have a gift to bring to church. She picked weeds from the roadside and left them in the chapel’s nativity scene, embarrassed at her meager token, but the weeds burst into bright red flowers. Everyone was sure it was a miracle. How might giving another a gift or standing under the mistletoe (a tradition dating back to the time of the druids) bring a little love and magic into the lives of your characters?
However you celebrate, enjoy the holidays and turn them into a fantastic story.
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Lisa Acerbo Author Blog: http://www.apocalipstickthebook.wordpress.com