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Writing in the Holidays
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One the many things I don’t like about the holiday season is that readers seem to expect something with a seasonal theme. Or maybe writers (or writers like me, to be more precise) just think that readers naturally want some holiday words.

Charles Dickens turned out Christmas stories and every year there's a spate of Christmas themed mysteries. For me, though, writing for the season can be a chore because I dread the holidays. No other time of year is so filled with the ghosts of people who are no longer here. I suppose it’s perfectly appropriate that Christmas practically starts with Halloween these days.

When I wrote a column for the local weekly, I'd always do one for the big holidays. Even at Christmas that wasn’t a problem because I was just out of high school and about the only ghosts casting shadows over the colored lights were those of departed pets.

I tended to turn out some sentimental tripe about the virtues of old fashioned Christmases, like my grandparents used to know, of which I had no experience -- the sort of thing that makes for the best sentimentality. Sappy sentiments which would sound laughable in July are what’s wanted at Christmas, like the gaudy lights no one (or almost no one) would consider stringing all over their house in the summer.

I thought of that while I was reading an abbreviated illustrated version of O. Henry's famous Christmas story (in the Alley Oop comic strip of all places) You remember the story about the impoverished young couple -- the husband sells his prized watch to buy his wife combs for her beautiful long hair and she sells her tresses to buy him a chain for his watch. It occurred to me, after all these years, that she got the better of the deal because her hair will grow back but what about his watch?

No, I just don't have the proper holiday attitude. When I was publishing a fanzine I often included a holiday piece, or an appropriate cover. Once I did a drawing of Santa’s sleigh being pulled through the air by bats.

Writing blogs I guess I should no longer feel quite so constrained.

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