Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Is a Christmas Story?

What could be better than an opinion article on Christmas themed writing techniques?

Don't answer that. I'm doing it anyway.

This article has no particular purpose other than to discuss a random topic that, whether or not it needs to, clearly exists. What makes a "Christmas Story" as opposed to a Christmas-themed story? Because there is a difference, and I intend to illuminate the two with my blaze of blinking, multi-colored Christmas lights.

Who approves these covers?
Let's start with a Christmas-themed story. I see a lot of these. My literary poison of choice, Regency Romance, is inundated with them, actually. And not just by indie authors like myself. I'm talking Mary Balough and Julia Quinn decking their 19th century halls with mistletoe and holly-patterned corsets. It's kind of hilarious, because I LOVE Christmas, but I always feel like a Frito chip when I give these yuletide tales a go. As in I smell pretty corny.

These stories have events happening around Christmas. As Christmas twinkles along, the characters have conflicts within the Holiday spirit. For example, fictional Leticia plays a game at a Christmas party, and has to kiss Buck McSteamy. Gasp! You know what I mean. Christmas has an impact on the characters.

A true Christmas story is one in which the characters make an impact on Christmas. A Christmas Carol, for example, is not only about Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, and all things theologically pertinent when it comes to the season, it shaped Christmas for us, in a way. Louisa May Alcott's Christmas Treasury is a literary interpretation of how we should celebrate the Holiday. It makes an impact on our thinking, on the season itself. It is stories like that, that are true Christmas Stories.

So hey, while we're here let's go through some popular books and movies to find the true Christmas stories:

The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLier--Christmas Story. This is one of those tales that takes the essence of Christmas, or one part of it, and creates a story as a metaphor for our attitudes during this time of year. It's not even about Christmas--but it's about the values thereof, and consequently during that time of year. It's a great example of toeing the line gracefully.

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich--Christmas-themed story. Janet takes one of our favorite characters, Stephanie Plum, and tells a story about her during Christmas. No significant impact made on my Christmas heart.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone the movie--What the jingle bells? Why do they play this movie during Christmas? Because it has a Christmas scene?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss--Christmas Story. Through and through, Seuss gives us a tale that is meant to change our hearts, and make them bigger and brighter.

Love, Actually--I'm calling this Christmas-themed. Christmas-ey stuff happens, but it doesn't touch on Christmas as a subject, as a principle. It's a relationship movie.

A Christmas Story--Duh. A Christmas Story. It's about childhood as related to Christmas. Clear cut one, but had to add it.

And the list goes on! I think you get the general idea.

So after reading all that, join in a pointless Christmas literary opinion exchange with me. What Christmas books do you like? Do you like Christmas Stories or Christmas-themed stories? Both? Think I'm wrong and want to stab me with your expertly pointed candy cane? Let me know!

Merry Christmas!


  1. I have to say, that was quite the cover for Christmas Brides.

  2. Oh, I love this post so much. You've got a great wit that I really like. I think I'll hang out some more. I'm awkward too, for the record, so we'll make great friends ;)

    1. Awesome sauce!! I love meeting fellow awkwards. It makes life so much more bearable. Thanks for stopping by!