For writers, the holiday season is a time full of great characters. Think about it. Look around the dinner table at your relatives. Every family may have a matriarch, a joker, a black sheep and a star, but exactly how the dynamics plays out is unique to your clan.
Study your relatives this holiday. Watch the interaction between generations. Do you have in-laws or “out” laws? Pay special attention to the people who say the least. How and what are they communicating?
Whose house do you gather at? Consider the political dynamics of which foods are served for dinner? (If you think there aren’t any politics in designing a family menu then you aren’t paying close enough attention.)
Listen to the words. Each family has a language of its own. Ordinary words are packed with a powerful history. Whose voice attempts to force a change in family culture? Whose voice forbids that to happen? A command from the grave may hold more authority than anyone alive.
Physically look at your cousins. The Victorians believed a high forehead meant intelligence. Maybe they were right or maybe they weren’t, but among your own do you see any physical traits that display characteristics your family is known for?
Holidays are a front row seat to all that makes your family wonderful and a little bit kooky. Enjoy the show. And when it’s over, Go write!