Warning: This post sort of… meanders. Someday I will go back to writing coherently, but not immediately.
Traditionally, at this time I year, I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is pretty much the gold standard of Christmas stories, after all: the Christmas story against which all other Christmas stories are measured. There have been dozens of adaptations of it, from stage to screen to an episode of Roseanne. Plus, it has ghosts, and I like ghost stories.
I also listen to a pair of albums that my little sister gave to me for Christmas a few years ago: A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice, both by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. These albums are basically parodies of traditional Christmas carols, taking as their subject matter the horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft instead of more traditional holiday fare. Here’s one of their songs, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen” (to the tune of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”), which some clever person has done a video of:
(This is probably my favorite song of theirs.)
I’ve written some Christmas horror of my own: a short story called “The Littlest Christmas Tree“, and another one called “Night of the Frozen Elf”, which has been published here and in the collection The Undead that Saved Christmas.
So why the creepy stuff for Christmas? To be honest, I don’t know for sure. I’ve written before, somewhere around here, about my fondness of horror fiction and of humorous fiction. The fiction I write is generally comic horror, which usually combines horrific elements with the banal. Think Wolfman stuck in a dead-end telemarketing job.
Not all of my fiction is comical, of course. I don’t think “The Littlest Christmas Tree” is funny (though you might have a different opinion), while “Night of the Frozen Elf” certainly is. Love in the Time of Cthulhu has its moments, but isn’t as funny as I’d intended it to be (and there isn’t nearly as much love as I’d intended there to be either, but that’s a different issue). But the fiction that is comical tends to be as I’ve described it above. In my Lovecraftian pastiches, I include the Old One (or Outer God, or Elder God, or whatever the cosmology is) Hastur, who, in the fiction of Chambers, Lovecraft, et. al., is an unspeakable deity who wreaks havoc and what-not. His full designation is “Hastur the Unspeakable”, and his name cannot be spoken lest you summon him or worse. In my stories, though, he’s kind of a loner who just wants things to stay the way they are and who watches football games on his television while drinking beer in his interdimensional apartment on Aldebaran.
See? The horrific meets the banal.
But what about Christmas? Is Christmas that banal? Yes? No? Sure, there are parts that I do find banal. Imagine a vampire getting worked up about the crowds on Black Friday, for example. Or how Cthulhu would deal with the office holiday party. That sort of thing.
So I guess there are elements of the holidays which certainly are banal, especially as the whole thing has become a consuming frenzy. And while I’m not a “put the Christ back in Christmas” kind of guy, I do think there is a spiritual component to Christmas that we miss when we become wrapped up in the consumption and the stress.
But I don’t know if this addresses the question of why I like my Christmases a little on the creepy side, why I prefer ghost stories to other holiday fare, or why I think “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen” is a better song than, say, “The Christmas Shoes”. Maybe it’s just a matter of taste. Or maybe it has something to do with a gut rejection of the consumerist aspects of a deeply spiritual holiday. Or maybe I’m just weird.
So I leave you with this image of Cthulhu dressed up as Santa Claus. Here’s hoping you get at least some level of enjoyment out of it. Happy holidays!