Over the years, I’ve done all manner of holiday decorating. When I was little, we always went out and bought a “live” (meaning dead) tree. We decorated it with fat lights and glass ornaments.
Later, Mom and I had a small, artificial tree. Sometimes we made ornaments. We were very crafty, Mom and I. One year, we decoupaged festive napkins onto Styrofoam balls and loaded them with glitter. (I love glitter.) One year, we cut religious symbols out of Styrofoam flats and highlighted them with gold, silver, pearls, and sequins; they were called Christmans, as I recall.
When the kids were little, decorating was a very big deal, and featured a lot of do-it-yourself and memories-of-times-past. Also: arguments. We live in the woods, so there was always an expedition to get a tree. Arguments. And hot cocoa.
For a few years, after the kids were gone, I went out and cut evergreen branches and pinecones and so on, and decorated all Yule-ish. I asked my husband to cut me a little tree and I decorated it with small ornaments.
Then I wearied of slaughtering greenery and went to Salvation Army and bought a tiny artificial tree, already decorated with somebody else’s ornaments. That pleased me greatly, and I still use it.
This year, I hardly decorated at all. Next year, I might go all-out.
THE POINT IS, a holiday — any holiday — is a great way to explore a character. My pal, Jane Peyton, set her vampire comedy WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE during the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. The events and locales Callie frequents — and why — and the attitudes of the various characters to them are not just local color, they’re instrumental in showing who the characters are. It’s a way of showing not telling that’s at once effective and entertaining.
Go thou and do likewise.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Make a list of five holidays in your character’s world. How did your character celebrate them when a child? An adolescent? An adult? How would they have preferred to celebrate them? Mind you, you don’t need to put any of this into a story, but it can be a useful tool in learning to know your character better.