I’m sitting at my computer trying to think about organizing Christmas cards, and I’m looking at all these photos of kids bundled up in the snow and snowflakes and whatnot… and it’s 80 degrees outside and gorgeous. And no, I’m not in the southern hemisphere. I live in California, on the Coast, where as a kid, I was once let out of school to see hail for the first time… in the 9th grade.
I’ve experienced white Christmases… as a kid my grandparents lived in upstate New York and we would often go for Christmas, and now my husband’s family is from Chicago, so I’ve seen my share of snow on the holiday. But it doesn’t happen here.
So we often pick out our Christmas tree wearing shorts and t-shirts and celebrate the holiday with the windows wide open. Fa la la la la la la la.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get particularly Christmassy – I firmly believe in not celebrating the holiday until after Thanksgiving, but I’m trying to make a point.
Anyway, this is my background. This is where I grew up and I think of sand and beaches for holidays more than snowflakes and reindeer. I guess I’m just atypical.
And aren’t we all? It’s a rare person fits into all the cliches, all the stereotypes. You’ve got to give your characters a twist. Make them unique (we are all unique! – Monty Python, anyone?)
Stop making the Christmas stories set in wintery drifts and icicles. Stop making each character feel like a Hallmark Channel movie character. Given them pizazz. Give them personality. Give them a background that shapes who they are and who they grew up to be.
Consider where they came from and how they grew up before you put them on paper. Not all of that information needs to make it to the page, but you need to dig deep and figure them out before you can write them. Otherwise they’ll be the people in the holiday cards, cookie cutter ideals that don’t seem real.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to the beach…