It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Steaua, Bucharest, 1842

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Saturnalia, how we celebrate the holidays (or choose not to) says a lot about who we are. A holiday setting is also a great way to let our readers know where and when a story’s taking place. What customs do the characters observe? What do the streets or vistas outside look like? What feasts will be prepared? And will the narrator get a chance to partake in the festivities – or just observe the satisfaction on the faces around her?

Generally, if life is going well, holidays put a warm glow on our sense of peace and gratitude. When things aren’t going our way though, chances are holidays serve as an unwelcome spotlight on our misery and loneliness.

The ghosts of holidays past can go a long way towards explaining why and how we came to be where we are now as well. Were they something we looked forward to with excitement – or with something more like dread? Take a look at the present: Do you celebrate the way you did growing up or have you found a different take more meaningful to your life now? Maybe you’ve invented your own customs to pass on to the next generation. The future’s pretty interesting, too. What do you suppose we’ll be doing in December 2113?

So pull out those pages you’ve been working on and see what happens when Old Man Winter comes around. Will it be a joyous occasion or maybe just, “Bah! Humbug?”

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