It’s the end of 2015, and the holiday season is almost over. Maybe you’re happy about it—stores will quit playing grating holiday tunes, and you can take back house space from the last of the decorations. Maybe it depresses you a little—after all, winter is long and gray, and there is far too much of it left after the last carols are sung and the last cookies eaten.
Either way, don’t let the holidays go just yet. They have one more gift to give you: a wealth of writing prompts. Don’t pass up the chance to write about your holidays, whether that means childhood memories or this year’s dinner fiasco. You’ll keep up your writing skills, get a better look at your own life, and just maybe find some goodies to inspire your fiction.
Here are six reason to chronicle the season before saying goodbye:
- Remember both the good and the bad.
Life is a jumbled mix of good and bad, and it’s worth remembering both. When you write about positive holiday memories, you’ll have a permanent record of something special. When you write about the less-than-pleasant side of the season, you’ll be able to put it in some perspective. Next to the positive memories, were the negative times that bad? What hardships are you thankful to have overcome? What crazy mistakes were made that you want to avoid in future celebrations? Write it all down, and you’ll remember what you’ve chosen to see as important.
- Preserve the present for future generations.
If you knew your grandparents, it’s likely that you heard stories of their lives and traditions. Did they talk about Christmas? Did they share parts of their experiences that are now gone but not forgotten? By writing down your story, you can continue the narrative. Why not let your grandkids (or other young friends if you don’t have your own family) know how their parents and grandparents celebrated Christmas? Holiday traditions change over time, and what you’re doing now will someday be a piece of history. Record it well!
- Trigger memories for your nonfiction storytelling.
As you write about your holiday memories, you’ll start connecting things you might not have remembered otherwise. For example: was your family upset the first time you spent the holidays with a significant other? If so, was it because they were dependent and controlling or because you were a tight-knit, affectionate clan? Find other memories to support your conclusion. Or what about the weird cookies from your aunt that you wound up feeding to the dog? Was it because your aunt had something against sugar, or was she just an awful cook? Take time for freewriting with holiday memories as a starting point, and you’ll wind up with all sorts of fodder for your memoir or other personal storytelling.
- Use your life in your fiction.
It’s okay to borrow heavily from real life when writing fiction; it won’t automatically make your character be you. It lets you share a unique perspective on the holidays and life in general that readers might find surprising and fresh. What seems so everyday in your own life will be interesting and foreign to someone else’s. Try writing your own holiday memories into your stories. Your details will be much more vivid when you’re able to draw on memory to flesh out your characters’ experiences.
- Understand yourself and your family.
Write to understand yourself and your family of origin. For every holiday or lack of one, there is some motivation and reasoning. Why did your family celebrate the way they did? Why have you chosen to either keep or break away from those traditions? The way we handle the holiday season says a lot about who we are as people, and you just might learn things that will help you get through the rest of the year, too.
- It’s always good to write.
Why wouldn’t you write about something as prominent as Christmas? As a writer, you should be writing all the time, and the holidays are a free supply of fresh material. It doesn’t matter which angle you view them from; it’s your angle, and your story is worth telling. Don’t let the chance to tell it pass you by.
What holiday stories are you thinking about recording? I’d love to hear about them! Tomorrow, I’ll post a list of holiday writing prompts to get you started if you’re not sure what to say first. Party hard tonight, and I’ll see you in 2016!