This was a misnomer.
Not long ago, I learned the joy of reading (and writing) scary stuff year round. Immersing myself in haunted houses and cemeteries has proven to be one of my favorite four-season past times. But it’s not entirely my fault that I relish the scary stuff.
In fact, Dickens started it. His epic tale of Scrooge and the ghosts that visited him throughout the night is nothing but a good, old-fashioned haunting. Of course, the legend of Scrooge and a “Dickens-style Christmas” had its beginnings in a book.
That’s right…a book (not a movie or a festival or a con)!
To hear that reading books is becoming a thing of the past (like the 19th century London ghosts that Dickens made so famous) hurts my heart. I struggle to envision the holidays without sitting in front of a fire with a good book in hand. People frequently tell me “I don’t really read.” This is something I hear at book tours. Granted, these people are keenly interested in the books laid out on display, waiting for an interested reader to snatch one up and take it home. So, why the interest in books but not the interest in reading them?
This is an anomaly I cannot address – just like the assumption that scary books are only to be read during October.
To me, books are a part of existence. They carry the breath of life within that makes us human: the magic of imagination and fantasy, the humility and pride of history, the boundless ability to discover strange, unseen world. How one can pass on such adventure, I’ll never understand.
This takes us back to the subject of this post: Why scary stories during the holidays?
The answer lies in the past – tradition. Historically, scary stories have always been told during Christmastime. Perhaps these were meant to bring a literal chill down the spine of winter readers. Perhaps it’s just because we all love to be thrilled with the premise of “what if?” In truth, the tradition of telling tales during the long winter nights has been around for a really long time. People traditionally come together during this time of year and the premise of specters seen in shadowy corners during lengthening, chilly nights seems plausible. Add the howling winter wind and scratch of sleet on windowpanes and you have the perfect ingredients for a ghost story.
These are the traditions we all love. Indeed, traditions are what the holidays are about – handed down from generation to generation – a means of bonding people together in love and the spirit of the holidays.
My greatest, most loving holiday wish for everyone is a book they will cherish. May your holidays be blessed with adventure, insight, fear, longing, and pure imagination that comes with a great book.
I hope you will find that love of story – I pray it will be one of mine.
Marti Melville is the author of the paranormal pirate series, The Deja vu Chronicles. She has also authored the children’s BallyHuHu series of books for young readers and writes horror under the pen name of A. M. Crane.