Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Sob Stories

Christmas time is here! It's nice to be home. Inside, the house is festooned with Christmas lights and garlands and bursting with joyful activities like gingerbread house making,

while outside, our welcome bear shivers in the cold.

I'm thinking of writing a Christmas story. It's about a sad, lonely little orphan bear who is shivering in the snow on Christmas Eve, when suddenly a nice family pulls up and gives him warm clothes to wear and 15 large boxes full of toys and goodies to take back to the orphanage. If this is sounding familiar, it's because it is. Most Christmas stories tend to fall into formulaic and somewhat maudlin patterns. You can quote me as an expert on that, because today I read around 90 short Christmas stories online to find some worthy of putting in a binder and reading as a family at Christmas time. I would say about 86 percent of them started with someone dying, someone missing a loved one who has died, or a mention of the Great Depression. The other 14 percent were about orphans.

Yes, as a writer I turn up my nose at Christmas stories. And yet, as I read story after story, I would start sobbing as poor little Billy bought those Christmas shoes for his dying mother, or the lonely old man gave the beautiful doll to the deserving girl who was only thinking about her crippled brother, or the single mom of three kids who didn't know how she was going to provide Christmas for her family was given gifts by kind strangers. The pile of Kleenex grew and my kids looked at me like I was crazy, but I kept reading and sobbing my way through all 90 stories. I think my heart grew 3 sizes today. Or I'm turning into my emotional father. Both medical impossibilities, yet I know something changed today. Despite the predictable cast and the sentimental writing, I'm starting to like Christmas stories.


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