Why the jolliest holiday on the calendar is actually the scariest
This month, I have the incredible honor to be a part of YULE: DREADFUL TALES OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON, a Christmas-themed horror anthology curated by Grant Stoye and featuring stories based on the “pre-commercialized Christmas/Yule/Solstice folklore” that we’ve all been steeped in these many years.
Like every project I take part in, the idea was what first got my creative maw salivating. As a (mainly) horror writer, I’m obsessed with the familiar suddenly becoming unfamiliar, a trope that encompasses movies like The Thing, The Exorcist, and Possessor (to only name a few of my favorites). So the thought of taking the sweetest, nicest, Most Wholesome and Holy of all days, and turning it into nightmare diesel was, to say the least, totally compelling.
And to my surprise, it didn’t take a lot of looking to find the centipedes under the Christmas Tree. As it turns out, dear reader, Christmas is an absolute abattoir of ghoulish delights.
And sure, you might be skeptical — this is the Internet, after all — but before I go into the spine-chilling examples of the horrors contained within YULE, let’s just take a second to step back and really look at what The Holidays are celebrating. Constant surveillance courtesy of Elf on the Shelf. Social credit scoring via the “list” that some eternal boomer has kept for hundreds of years. The home invasion of a man in a costume being allowed access to your personal spaces. Letting your child sit on the lap of a man in a fake beard and paying him for the privilege. The isolation and stigma that comes with being different, like Rudolph. Hell, even infidelity and sexual assault are given time to shine by way of mistletoe, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”
I’m not here for it. At least during All Hallows Eve, we know the monsters are coming out to play. The scary is made less scary by putting it out in the open, celebrating it. But Christmas? Hard pass. Putting a snowflake ornament on a twitching corpse doesn’t make it festive, it looks like you’re covering up a crime (looking at YOU, Tim Allen in The Santa Clause).
But this is where YULE shakes its jingle bells a little differently. Grant has given creators a chance to put the monsters out on front street, for all to see. By celebrating the darkest, scariest parts of these holidays, we exorcise them. When we can no longer deny the sticky secrets behind the tinseled framework, we find a greater understanding of what makes the holidays important: love, family, and friends.
So let’s spread the love a little bit! I’ll start with my collaborator @SpaceJamKamArt on THE LAST CHRISTMAS, the story of Gryla the Christmas Witch, and her malicious Yule Lads, who attack the unwitting citizens of a sleepy town. I’m truly honored to work with such a distinctive and talented voice!
Elliot Balson, Mike Maynard, Rob Jones and Umar Ditta team up for a story about Krampus, possibly the most well-known Christmas horror figure, and J Schiek, Kacey Flynn and Toben Racicot bring “An Advent of Elves” to the table, a short about the now-ubiquitous Elf on the Shelf.
“The Deadly Cold” by Fell Hound, Frankee White, and DC Hopkins stars Karankoncolos, small furry goblins that lure their victims out into the cold, and Val Halvorson teams up with Justin Jordan to bring us “Grey Mare, Out There,” a story about the Welsh custom of Mari Lwyd.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL! There are even more stories to help the winter air chill your bones! Elena Gogou and Joe Corallo on “Saturnalia.” Heather Vaughan and Jason Piperberg on “Tio de Nadal.” Meredith McClaren handles all duties on “Bliss.” Alex Schlitz and anthology curator Grant Stoye on “Never Leave Your Christmas Party Early.” Malissa White and Anastasia Longoria team up on a Victorian ghost story retelling, Jack Foster & Jenn St-Onge each tackle all duties in their tales, and the cover is wonderfully done by Donna Black with logo designs by LetterSquids. Pin-ups from Marie Enger, Maria Wolf and Minerva Fox.
And THIS IS JUST THE BOOK, PEOPLE! There are so many unique rewards available on the Kickstarter campaign page, so go there immediately! Ornaments, retailer incentives, original art and sketches will all be up for offer before the campaign ends!