Welcome to December! The end of another year. A time for festivity and, for many, a time to assess the goals they set at the start and where they are with them now. If, like me, you are a writer, it is quite possible that you (or an editor/agent/publisher) set a very big end-of-year deadline that you are scrambling to meet. And, for those of you who are in this boat along with me, I wish you the best of luck (and good coffee for those long nights ahead). At the same time, I encourage all writers out there to allow themselves a bit of celebration in amongst the scramble. Because Christmas is a holiday for writers. And I don’t mean because there are excessive amounts of socially approved drinking, although this may help with some end of year inspiration. Christmas is a holiday for writers because it is a holiday completely devoted to storytelling.
Being set in the winter months (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), the Christmas season, in times past (before the distractions of TV and social media), was a time to stay warm inside, cozy up next to a fire, and tell stories. Familial story-telling still continues to this day with tales from a wise old grandpa or crazy drunk uncle rounding out many a successful Christmas dinner. And this holiday, and the storytelling that goes with it, has inspired many classic works of literature. Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe stand out as greats that center on this holiday, while other novels (Little Women, to name one of my favorites) have memorable Christmas scenes at their core. And the list of short stories and poems that tell tales of Christmas would fill plenty of stockings.
And then we come to Christmas carols; one of the greatest examples of the oral storytelling tradition. Most established Christmas songs tell stories. They have plots, drama, romance, and even a little humor. Some even speak of storytelling, with “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” lyricizing “There’ll be scary ghost stories/And tales of the glories/ of Christmases long, long ago”. Although I’ve always considered this a reference to Dickens, there may have been a time when the ghost story telling was part of the annual Christmas get together.
And, while Christmas has inspired some of the great works of literature of our time, the holiday itself is completely devoted to the greatest work of literature in the western cannon. Now, whether you believe the story to be true or not, the Bible is the foundation of this wonderful holiday. And the story it tells about the birth of a child is the reason most celebrate this time of year (pagan traditions and Coca-Cola commercialization aside). So yes, stories. It’s the reason we celebrate and how we celebrate. And for those of us who spend the rest of our year writing stories, this is our time. So, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, writers, celebrate yourself and the magnificent time of year that revolves around your passion. Finish up those final edits and raise a glass of nog, for this is our holiday. Cheers my fellow writers! This one is for you.