Nearly everyone enjoys writing for the holidays, especially Christmas, and most editors say they are looking for holiday articles and stories. HOWEVER, a problem arises when we write using the same themes in much the same ways. Editors are overwhelmed with manuscripts, for both children and adults, about the real meaning of Christmas, the overload of gifts and parties, a child who is greedy but learns to share, a mom who is too harried to enjoy this special time, or an angelic child who helps an old grouch see the love around him. While all of these are valid ideas, in truth most people (and certainly editors!) are weary of reading about them in all-too-familiar stories. Other writers have found ways around this dilemma, and we can, too.
If you’ve read (or seen the video) of Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” you’ve seen how she took an occurrence familiar to all of us but turned it around to create a different, meaningful, and hilarious story that has endured over the years.
Over 45 years ago, Charles Schultz added new dynamics to the idea of the commercialization of Christmas, combined it with the Biblical, original Christmas story, and created the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
And, many years ago in “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens gave us the original Scrooge who learned that good will and friendship trumps greediness every time.
Of course, these talented writers have already done the above, so is there anything left for the rest of us? Of course there is. We just need to put creativity to work. Try thinking about all your Christmas experiences. You might even want to make a list. Then think about ways they were meaningful to you, or ways you would have liked them to be different, or what you’ve learned over the years from them. THEN, after your first draft is committed to paper, take some time to add an unusual twist (even if you have to invent something!) that will give readers (and editors!) a new idea to consider.
While we’re at it, we can think outside the Christmas box. There are so many other holidays throughout the year that we do ourselves (and again, editors) a favor when can come up with ways to deal with some of the more “neglected” holidays, again adding a new twist and bringing a fresh perspective to Valentine’s Day, Easter, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving…even Arbor Day!
Contributed by Marjorie Flathers