Hello, dear readers. There’s no escaping the holiday season now. Hannukah is here, Christmas is close, Kwanzaa is coming, and New Year’s is soon to be upon us. There’s no time like the present (see what I did there?) to delve into one thing that stretches over all of the holidays we celebrate at this time of year; holiday magic. Read along, and Yule see…
Holiday magic takes many forms, and, often, it doesn’t matter which holiday, specifically, applies. The holiday season as a whole is filled with lights and treats and good will toward all (or at least that’s the plan.) Strangers are a little more friendly, there’s an air of festivity, sparkly lights are everywhere, and there’s the feeling that the impossible might, in fact, be possible, even if only for a little while. Many big cities and even small towns put on impressive displays in store windows and public squares, filling the chill winter nights with sparkling lights of a million colors, or purest white. Window designers create whole other worlds in their storefronts, with themes that carry for whole blocks or more, in minute and painstaking detail.
Sometimes, the holiday magic has more of a quiet feel to it, like the long-dreaded family dinner where, miraculously, nobody brings up politics, relatives don’t ask embarrassing questions, and, against all odds, the turkey comes out of the deep fryer perfectly brown and fragrant, without causing a fire. Since we’re talking romance fiction here, if the turkey (or anything else, for that matter) does start a fire, it’s a sure bet that there will be at least one firefighter, both hotter than the blaze itself, and conveniently single, to take everything in hand and add an extra sparkle to the season.
Other times, the magic is exactly that. If nobody has written a romance called A Very Vampire Christmas, it’s probably only a matter of time. How many of us wish, in the midst of the modern holiday rush, that we could travel back to a quieter time, whether to take part in Elizabeth Tudor’s Twelfth Night revels, see with our own eyes how the oil that should have lasted for one night burned for eight instead, get the full Dickensian immersion experience, or any other point in time? Time travel romance makes those holiday dreams come true, wrapping the love story with a big, sparkly bow. (Or plain brown paper, if that’s more your thing.) Whether the lovers have their happily ever after in the past or present (or maybe even future) the holiday season will always have a special extra glow. Christmas ghosts have been with us for quite some time, and, in holiday romance, even death can’t keep true lovers apart. Elves, fairies, and other creatures also abound at this time of year, and angels can come in varieties fantastical or inspirational, to help along the hearts of mere mortals, whose only wish for the holiday is for someone to spend it with them.
What discussion of holiday romance would be complete without bringing kids into the mix? How many grumpy heroes or heroines think, at first, that the holidays are only for children, only to find out that isn’t the case at all? For kids, anything is possible, and nobody believes more firmly in the magic of the holiday season. Whether or not Santa is involved, and no matter what lies inside brightly wrapped boxes (or what the parents or guardians wish they could give their wee ones) that childlike belief that there is good in the world can override all the slings and arrows of everyday life. Even the most jaded characters can find their resolve compromised when faced with a young person who believes in them, or is in need of something, tangible or otherwise, that only they can give. When said young people play matchmaker, as they often do in these sorts of tales, they tend to be pretty darned good at it. Realistic? Maybe not, but we’re talking holiday magic here. The kids are all right, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
Contagious, as well, is the spirit of the winter season. Where some see bitter cold and dark days, others see a brisk snap in the air, and time to draw close to those we love and gather round the hearth (or gaming console, in some contemporaries) and focus on those we love the most.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. What says holiday magic to you? Do you prefer more fantastical elements in your holiday romances, or does the magic come, instead, from the hearts, and the spirit of the season? Have a favorite holiday romance that epitomizes any type of holiday magic? Pull up a chair in the comments section and tell us all about it. Does the mention of holiday magic elicit a resounding “bah, humbug?” We want to hear about that, too. There’s room for everybody at this table.