Thursday, November 27, 2008

Writing About Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving! If you are reading this on Thanksgiving Day, you ought to get something for your dedication—a free book, a hundred dollar bill, a free turkey, something. But no, I’m not giving out any of those things. All I have to offer are my thoughts on writing about holidays.

When we include a holiday in a novel, there is a tendency for it to over power the novel. If you mention Christmas, you might as well call the book a Christmas novel. If you mention Valentine’s Day, the book might as well have a pink cover. For all practical purposes, holidays don’t occur in Fantasia except when the author wants to talk about a particular holiday.

Holidays carry with them some requirements of their own. If we write about Veteran’s Day we can expect it to involve the armed forces. Ground Hog’s Day stories had better have a ground hog. Christmas is the big one. Christmas stories are about family, peace, the jolly old elf, magic and some other things. We deviate from these things to keep it interesting, but we still tie the story back to these things in some way. If we didn’t our readers would have a hard time accepting it as a Christmas story, in which case it would be better to not mention Christmas at all.

If you like writing fantasy holidays are great. There are people in the world who believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Leprechauns. Talk about the suspension of disbelief. They assure us that the reason Santa Claus doesn’t reveal himself to us is because we aren’t sincere in our belief. With a concept like that, we could make any claim at all and tell people that the complete lack of evidence is because they don’t believe. Every wish can come true in a Holiday story.

I enjoy a good Santa Claus story or a good Leprechaun story, but they present problems for the Christian worldview, especially Santa Claus stories. The typical Santa Claus story is about making dreams come true. Someone makes a wish and Santa Claus will make it come true. Santa Claus is often a type of god who has no consideration of whether a wish should come true or not. All that matters is whether the person is good or bad. It usually comes off a little corny because things don’t happen like that in real life. It would be better if after the wish comes true the person comes to realize it was a mistake, but then it wouldn’t be much of a Santa Claus story.

That’s it for now. Don’t eat too much and enjoy the game.