Writing Tip — Christmas Traditions as Writing Inspiration

people-w2595724_1280There are probably a million published Christmas stories, both fiction and nonfiction, from short stories and novels to devotions and theological works. One way to make any piece of writing unique is to look at your own Christmas traditions. Mining your own experiences can lead to a one-of-a-kind Christmas story.

I could write an epic over my relationship with Christmas trees. As a child, we always cut a live tree. Some Christmases we hiked through a farm to find the perfect one. Other times we bought already cut trees at the Lutheran Church. One year, my sisters and I went late to the Lutheran Church and found the seller gone and a few lonely trees discarded at the edge of the parking lot. We had a free tree that year.

My husband grew up with fake trees. To him, real trees are dirty, difficult , and fire hazards. Our first Christmas in our new house saw us battling over which tradition our new family would observe. I came home from work one evening and found a tree stand in the living room. It’s one of my sweetest memories.

Now my kids and I tag a tree at a local tree farm on Thanksgiving weekend but don’t cut it until a week before Christmas, so the tree is fresh and less likely to spontaneously combust. This year, I wanted a big tree for our two-story living room. The only big one without a brown needles and large gaps was a towering Scotch pine. But it had a lot of bare trunk that I thought we’d cut off. I measured it with the homemade ruler the owner provided. It seemed as tall as the one we got last year.

But I couldn’t weigh the tree. It turned out to be the heaviest tree we’d ever got. Things started to go wrong when my husband told me to grab the tree as our youngest sawed the truck, and while I put on my gloves, it fell on him. My husband, kids, and I could barely drag it to the front of the farm. The tree was too big for the chute the owner used to tie the limbs down, so he had to tie it without mechanical help. It took my whole family and the owner to lift it into the bed of our truck.

We wrestled the tree through the front door. Then I decided we should call my dad to help stand the tree up. I have a weak shoulder and didn’t want the tree to fall on husband a second time.

This story can be used in many different way. As a humorous piece. As an illustration of the state of a marriage, such as couple who are quarreling draw closer as they engage in the tradition of selecting and decorating a tree.  As a family drama, such as a visit to a tree farm reveals problems in a family. Since this is a Christmas story, I would have those problems solved, or at least addressed, by the end of the story.

How can you use your Christmas traditions as writing inspiration?

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