If you’re looking for our normal Friday Writing Sprints post, we kicked things off a little earlier this week on Wednesday with our 4th Annual Short Story Challenge. If you missed it, check out our first entry, Kay’s fun Botticelli Pizza story. We’ll be posting other entries in the coming days, including my own story next Wednesday.
In the meantime, I’m taking a break and doing a little comfort reading and movie watching. It never quite feels like the holiday season is official unless I’ve watched Love Actually at least once (though I tend to enjoy it all year-round). I’ll even admit to watching more than my fair share of holiday movies via the Hallmark Channel in recent weeks. They may be predictable, color-blind, and even a bit sexist at times, but they provide a nice distraction from real-life and their lack of angsty-drama or surprises is rather comforting. I also get a kick out of the techniques they use to make it look like the characters are in the snow when they most definitely are not. A Christmas Story and It’s A Wonderful Life used to be on the holiday watch list, but I think I overdosed on them in year’s past, so I’m skipping them this time around.
For me, the holiday season officially starts once I’ve watched Miracle on 34th Street (the original, not the remake), and tree-trimming just wouldn’t be the same without the Andy Williams Christmas Show playing in the background, like it used to do back when I was a kid. I haven’t managed to catch one of my favorite animated holiday movies on television yet this year – The Year Without a Santa Clause – so I may have dig out my DVD copy. I love that one, not for the story but rather for the Snow Miser / Heat Miser duet sung by Mother Nature’s battling sons. It’s very catchy. Watching all of the old animated holiday movies was one of my favorite holiday traditions when my son was little, even though their 1950’s graphics and styling were woefully simplistic even 20 years ago.
Jenny Crusie’s Santa Baby and Georgette Heyer’s A Christmas Party (aka Envious Casa) are traditional reads this time of year, as is Jo Beverley’s Winter Fire, a Georgian period story featuring her Malloren clan. Re-reading them feels a lot like visiting old friends (friends that you don’t have to clean the house or get out of your pajamas to visit).
Though the holiday season can be hectic and over-commercialized, a little comfort viewing and reading is just what I need as another year comes to a close. As Jenny said in her recent In Praise of Comfort Stories post:
“All of which has convinced me that comfort stories are necessary to mental health. We can’t always be challenged, surprised, thrilled, and terrified.”
So I’m off to warm up my coffee and go finish reading A Christmas Party. And if that’s not comforting enough, I’ve got a warm wiggly puppy chewing on a stuffed toy almost her size at my feet.
So, regardless of whether you celebrate anything this time of year or not, what kind of “comfort” traditions do you have?