The Christmas Spirit

January 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

spirit“The Christmas Spirit” by Brian James Freeman

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This seasonal short story was provided free by Cemetery Dance as a Christmas present for their customers. I can’t pass up free, especially when it will only take a few minutes to read, and it’s from Cemetery Dance. It has to be good and creepy, right?

Well, not always. This story is about a family who embraces Christmas, and this is the year they plan to win the neighborhood decoration contest. The main character is described as someone who had a rough time as a younger man, but who has embraced life and positivity thanks to a kind stranger who gave him a button at his darkest point that reads, “Remember the reason for the season!” He does (he still wears that button, in fact), so the beginning of the story comes off as a bit preachy. By the end, we realize he’s playing with us, but it was a bit off-putting at first.

Freeman does a decent job of setting up the expectations for the story before turning it on its head, but nothing else about the story makes it worthwhile. There’s zero characterization here. The characters are broadly drawn, and are described more than they’re presented. The family is an idyllic one, but we don’t know that through their interactions; we know that because Freeman tells us so.

The ending is sudden, and feels rushed, and it seems overly graphic. I think Freeman was trying to create a dichotomy between the pleasant Christmas season and the violent end of the story, but it felt forced to me. It felt like a bad episode of The Twilight Zone, and I can see this being a perfect story for the show, but as a story, it doesn’t make much of an impression.

Sure, the story is free, but it’s not really worth the time. Freeman can capture atmosphere well, but this story feels like an outline for a larger work and not a story in and of itself. Skip it.

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