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It seems like every year brings more Christmas romance than the last, doesn’t it? The winter holiday romance was hitting the shelves in early August this year, which may be due to the “Hallmark effect.” People love happy and feel-good stories, and Christmas is known as a mood-booster during the darkest time of the year. We’re also seeing a rise in Hanukkah love, like The Matzah Ball and Jean Meltzer, and New Year’s romance, like This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousins. All holidays are getting their share of love, with one particularly popular. So I have to ask, where are the love stories?
Look, I got it. Christmas sparkles. It has all the decorations and beautiful lights and beautiful music. Romance novel protagonists might kiss under the mistletoe or flirt while buying presents or argue over the Christmas tree to bring home from the farm. This year, we’re already getting a good number of holiday romances, including Give her a kiss for me by Alison Cochrun and You Have a Heart, Matthew Prince and Timothy Janovsky, among others. Historically, holiday romance has been written mostly by white writers, but that is starting to change again with books like The Battle of Christmas by Suzanne Park.
But I have to get something off my chest: I’m a Grinch. I hate Christmas. It’s the worst holiday, right? It’s oversold, it’s sad, the weather is cold, Santa is scary, and everyone seems to forget that it’s not a national holiday but has something to do with a colonial religion that hurts a lot of people. “But the socks! And a deer!” I hear you say. Yes, I know I’m a spoiler. I’m the character in the book who needs a hot gay guy in a Santa suit to show him the meaning of Christmas.
I’m not going to try to steal anyone’s beloved Christmas love notes from their cold, mittenless hands. I just came to argue that we can spread a little love to other seasonal holidays, right? And let’s start with faith. It’s not a perfect holiday by any means. It is also colonialist and erases Indigenous history. That’s something I’d like to see recognized in the love of faith, or explored in romance by an ethnic writer. In fact, let’s create a holiday romance that reflects the holiday crisis at its core!
Here are the reasons why I think this holiday deserves a little Christmas treat.
Romantic Autumnal Vibes
I’m not sure why romance writers think so much about winter, it’s so cold, it’s gray, it’s the worst season, or it’s autumn. Right away. We all love it When Harry Met Sally to those colors that change leaves and adorable sweaters, don’t we? It’s called cuffing season for a reason: because gay men should consider folding their flannel sleeves. and because it’s time to lock it down with a romantic relationship before the winter break. Come on, thanks for the love. Give me picking apples and ears of corn. Let those lovers cuddle up and roast s’mores over the campfire. Throw in the making part in a pile of leaves (but watch out for the cobwebs).
Foodie Romance is fun
Everyone knows that food and love go together like turkey and dressing. Foodie romances (aka “apron tuggers”) are very popular now. Nothing is hotter than someone who knows their way around a sizzling stovetop. And as a holiday made entirely of great food, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to throw a couple of lovers in the kitchen and let the sparks fly. The possibilities are endless here: two talented chefs fighting over who can make the best turkey, a chef teaching a new love interest in his medicinal secrets, an unknown couple struggling to prepare a family feast… think faster than you can say “pumpkin pie.”
Experience Family Hilarity
Introducing your family to the special rich elements of comedy and drama in love. It comes in Christmas with lots of love, and the opportunity is there to thank Thanksgiving as well. Not only do you get to meet the family; you also get to see the traditions of different families. Maybe one person’s family does things traditionally, while another’s family wants to do something weird, like eat tacos and go kart racing. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to contrast the two different ways love is raised and what is valued by their families.
There are quite a few Thanksgiving romances out there – you know you can rely on self-published authors to deliver the content traditional publishers lack – and the ones I’ve read are mostly family oriented. Jackie Lau’s novella A Match Made to Believe is part of Holidays with the Wongs a series where each sibling gets a chance at love during a different holiday. In the first, the Wong parents set up each of their older children with a surprise Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, the most important). But Nick only had one unforgettable night with Lily, the day his parents invited him to his brother Greg’s. Frustration, jealousy, and secret flirting obviously happen.
Many romance readers go gaga for tropes, and Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity for a festive twist on classic setups. Imagine a good-natured encounter over the last can of cranberry juice at a crowded grocery store. Enemies turn to lovers as they compete over who can roast the best turkey. Childhood sweethearts are reunited when their families decide to have Thanksgiving dinner together. Exes fight over who takes the kids to Thanksgiving and decide to have dinner together, finally getting a second chance at love. Winds of fire fly between friends at the Fellowship table. Biography of Tiffany Reisz Her Naughty Holiday it puts a little Thanksgiving cheer into the fake dating trope. Clover’s family won’t stop bothering her about finding a husband, so her teenage worker sets Clover up with her hot dad. Do they end up having sex on the table they will use to serve the Clover family a feast? Absolutely.
Black Friday Chaos
If you’re about to say, “But Susie, you just complained about the over-commercialization of Christmas!”…You’re right. But what’s more ripe for drama than two lovers trying to snag a Black Friday deal? If you are looking for a third divorce case, nothing can tear apart a new couple other than conflict. Organize an event at IKEA for double the relationship. Or maybe one character gets sexily to protect the other when someone tries to hit them on the last half price Playstation. If you’re not like that during Black Friday, it’s the perfect opportunity for the rest of the family to be conveniently absent while our loved ones are busy returning home.