Today I am steadfastly ignoring that there is any further work to be done on Christmas, because yes, it feels like a complete chore. I would rather be writing, catching up with all the exciting plot twists, developments and characterisation I keep dreaming up.
I am not a Christmassy person, because I am not traditional in a lot of ways. Although Christmas is a marvellous reason to come together with family (provided you like your family), for me there is no reason why this has to occur on 25 December, or come with the slow and stressful build up of crowded public spaces and the bankrupting oneself on presents and high travel costs.
Today I would like to make a list of some of the ways in which I break with our cultural paradigm of Christmas. We should turn this into a writing exercise! Can you think about the ways in which you break with tradition with Christmas, or any other major holidays? How does your character adhere to or break the traditions of the holidays and festivals of their world, and what would this tell us about them? If their world and festivals are something completely new and unfamiliar to the reader, how can you show us that your character’s actions go against the grain?
Here are just a few ways that I break with Christmas tradition:
- I dislike most Christmas decorations. Baubles are usually replete with seams, scrapes, botched glitter and that unmistakeable glow of cheap plastic. Tinsel looks like something a cat has been chewing on. People strew every edge and innocent wall with this stuff, despite the fact that they would rightfully recognise it as hideous if it were attempted at any other time of year.
- I like to wrap Christmas paper in gaudy non-Christmas themed wrapping paper. It is a hilarious joke that nobody else understands or appreciates.
- I hate Christmas songs. They have been known to begin their assault in November. They are in nearly every public space and you cannot opt out unless you stay home and don’t look at your TV or computer. It’s the same trite and worn down suspects every year, so you can’t even rely on variety to make it a bit more bearable. All they signal to me is that I’m supposed to be buying stuff I can’t afford to give to people who won’t use it.
- As a resident of the southern hemisphere, Christmas is in summer, and it weirds me out every year without fail. I was born in the southern hemisphere and grew up without an understanding of just how little sense it makes to have a midwinter festival in midsummer, without adapting any of the iconography. Everywhere I look, it’s fluffy Santa hats, snowflakes, winter-fruiting holly wreathes and sleighs. I moved away from my southern home for a considerable time, got used to cold Christmasses, then came back. And now I cannot unsee how bizarre it is.
Just a small selection, otherwise we’ll be here all day. Over to you – how do you break with Christmas tradition? Not celebrating Christmas at all is a fine and valid response!