December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas! Time for Powerful Traditions

Christmas tree glowing with lights with text: Traditions and Storytelling

How’d everyone do on getting ready for Christmas? I finished everything on Sunday—a day early!—believe it or not. *grin* (Only because I had to, as we were traveling yesterday.)

That might sound impressive, but in reality, my Christmas cards went out in yesterday’s mail, and I had to stay up until 2 a.m. on Saturday to finish my annual cookie-making extravaganza. But I love Christmas, so I can’t complain too much.

Speaking of my yearly epic bake-fest, Christmas traditions are common for many families. A certain family member might always host the gathering, we might try to catch certain Christmas specials on TV every year, or we might even have a traditional argument over the dinner table about the menu choices.

For many families, Christmas is the biggest holiday and thus has the most traditions, but holidays in general are a big time of traditions. Traditions are part of our lives, so they should be part of our characters’ lives too.

Traditions in Our Stories

Whatever the setting of our story, during holidays or not, we can add a touch of realism to our stories by including a sense of traditions between characters.

Can we use traditions for our characters to add realism? Click To TweetMaybe our character has a traditional activity for a night out with friends. Or maybe they’re upset when changes interfere with their usual traditions. Or maybe they feel lonely or left out because they haven’t yet established traditions, and they want to make changes in their life to create some.

Whatever we come up with, adding references to traditions in our stories helps make our characters feel more realistic and well-rounded. Traditions create the subtext of a full life for our characters beyond the time and place of our story.

What Traditions Do You Have?

By thinking of our own traditions, we can get ideas for what our characters might have in their lives—or what they might long for. And remember, traditions can be almost anything, good or bad or whatever.

My parents host Thanksgiving every year, and we’ve always joked about how they have a traditional argument during the mad rush to coordinate getting the dishes ready at the same time. This past year, we all commented on the fact that they didn’t have an argument, which we teased might have been due to the fact that after their 50th Anniversary in October, they finally have everything figured out between them. *grin*

Or for another example of how we can use the lack of traditions in our story, this year we didn’t put up our big tree. We decided that our 6-month-old kitten, Lucy Fur (who lives up to her name far too much), is still too spaz and undisciplined to keep her from literally climbing the tree.

Instead, we just put up a mini-tree, and she’s entertained herself by stealing the donkey from the nativity to wrestle with every time we turn around. (Which, of course, has led to all the “ass”-related jokes you can think of. *snicker*)

Whatever your traditions, see if they inspire any ideas for ways to add a bit of three-dimensionality to your characters. *smile*

My Cookie-Baking Extravagaza Tradition

Here on my blog, I have several traditions, such as my annual Blogiversary Contest, Thanksgiving gratitude post, and my report on my epic cookie-baking event before Christmas.

I typically make several hundred cookies to hand out to family, friends, and neighbors. This year, we swore we’d cut back. We even had a plan.

We were going to make only 5 kinds of cookies rather than the usual 6 or 7. But of course, that meant we figured we could make more batches—and varieties—of those five. *shakes head*

Our final tally? 873 cookies!

We think that’s a new record, so we completely failed at “cutting back”… *alternates between laughing and crying*

2018 Christmas Cookie tray

This year we made Fudge Oatmeal Bars, Chocolate Fudge, and Chocolate Bark (which we sprayed silver and gold), Caramel Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies, and Sugar Cookie bars. *passes around platefuls of virtual cookies* Here, take as many as you want—I made plenty.

Now, if you’re celebrating this week, I hope your plans all unfold smoothly, your travels all go safely, your family members all behave perfectly, and all your dreams for the New Year come true.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not,
I wish you all the best during this season.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
And take some cookies… Please! *smile*

Do you or your family have any Christmas or other holiday or life-in-general traditions? Are your traditions good, bad, humorous, or other? Have you ever included traditions for your characters in your writing? What kind and in what way did you include them? Does thinking about your traditions help give you ideas for your characters?

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Hey Jami, As you know, I read gay romances nonstop, and many of them reference Christmas with families, usually in a negative way. For example, parents who have kicked their children out because they don’t like gay people, or parents who are cold and rejecting towards their LGBTQ+ children or their partners when their children do come home for a Christmas dinner. Many times, you see parents invite the protagonist over, expecting them to bring an opposite gender partner with them, but ha, of course the homophobic parents are not getting what they want. As painful as these things are, they do make good references to traditions (a broken tradition, you could call it), and many of my queer and trans friends do feel anxiety, sadness, or anger over Christmas because of familial rejection. A trans friend of mine recently told us that he feels really depressed during this Christmas holiday. Some trans folks do go home for Christmas, but they may fear their family members all calling them by the wrong pronouns, gender markers, and dead name, whether by accident or on purpose. No, I’m not saying that ALL family reunions for LGBTQ+ folks are this atrocious. However, even for a relatively lucky case like mine, where my parents are grudgingly accepting and Cantonese uses the same pronouns for everyone and everything, I am still very anxious about going to family gatherings now. I have not seen my extended family for 2.5 years, partly because I don’t want to…  — Read More »

Roland R Clarke

What a delicious end to a post and the festivities – yummy. Blessed 2019.

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