Lessons from Holiday Stories


Last week we talked about how the holidays affect our writing schedules, and what we can do to improve our experiences on both sides. The holiday season takes up more time and other demands than most times of the year. It’s also, sadly, the most common time for us to get the cold/flu. So I hope today’s post finds everyone well, and all set for Christmas.

The Classics:

There’s something about the classics that makes them last, but what is it? You can ask most people in America. I won’t speak for anyone outside because I’m not sure, and they will recognize the titles of The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I’m sure there are plenty more, so add your favorites to the comments below.

Each of these stories has had many adaptations through various mediums, and we still share the stories with our families this day. I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched an adaptation of The Nutcracker, but the constant nature of the story keeps it fresh in our minds. There are plenty of other Christmas tales from that time, yet everyone mentions this one every time Christmas comes around. A Christmas Carol and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer have more well-known storylines and you’ve probably watched a more recent adaptation, or the originals, every Christmas season.

So what makes the classics so timeless?

I don’t believe the authors, composers, or other creatives build their works of art intending to become timeless. Yes, we should strive for work that outlives us, but forcing it can send the story into cliched, heavy-handed, or awkward ranges.

The one thing that is true for each story, it share’s its own tale of Christmas while working with elements of our world. In The Nutcracker, you’ll find a young girl’s coming of age story on Christmas. Often the holiday season can become that time of year you develop, learn something new, or gain a new perspective in life. The love in The Nutcracker may reflect your desire to connect with others or yourself.

In A Christmas Carol, we watch a grumpy old man face the reality of his past, present, and future self. As the year ends, you may find yourself deeper in reflection on what you did this year, or up to this point in your life.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a glow up story. (Yes, I think I’m funny.) But, really, the story of Rudolph is about how rising above the bullying to show that what many see as a flaw is valuable. While many don’t like to admit it, there is a lot of bullying around the holidays as people feel more vulnerable and the need to lash out.

The New Holiday Stories:

Some might consider Elf, The Santa Clause (Featuring Tim Allen), and The Grinch (Featuring Jim Carrey) to be the new classic holiday stories. But I’m sure everyone has a different opinion on the modern movies. i.e. Is Die Hard, a Christmas movie. One thing that the holiday movies and stories do is use a time of year commonly known and build physical, mental, and magical conflicts around the characters. Some of these stories may seem cookie cutter, but as long as you stay away from the Hallmark Channel, find that they all have their own unique message.

One of my recent favorites was Noelle, which Anna Kendrick played Noelle Clause and it addressed bringing in a woman as Santa Clause fantastically. I feel like it could become a classic, but who knows? The Nutcracker didn’t become popular until years after it first released. How many thought a Will Ferrell Christmas movie would become an instant classic that everyone quotes?


There is no master formula to writing the perfect holiday story, or the perfect story, but if you can practice identifying what makes these classic stories timeless, you can implement those concepts in your writing. I realize that most of the examples used were film, but to me, film is such an important storytelling medium to study. You can observe stories in a shorter time period than a full-length novel, but still find writing advice beyond the script. Those shots showing movement between cities, landscapes, or silence between characters simulate the narrative and world-building found in novels. So use the classics and recent stories of the holidays to learn about what our society is focusing on as important and how you can use that for your own novels.

Thank you for reading, and as always, keep writing, keep learning, and stay fresh, my nugs!

Previous: Writing During the Holidays 2022

Next: Setting New Year Resolutions/Goals for 2023

2 thoughts on “Lessons from Holiday Stories

  1. Pingback: Writing During the Holidays 2022 – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: Setting New Year Resolutions/Goals for 2023 – Myers Fiction

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