8 Short Stories About Winter and Christmas

4 minute read
Author: SarahWHQ

December! Season of insipid adverts, never-ending wallet-spilling and family. Family. Cool. We said cooooool. It’s not that we’re Grinches over at WHQ HQ it’s just that sometimes the pressure to be joyous and have special family moments is a bit on the overwhelming side. That’s why we’ve sought out a whole bunch of short stories about the inherent absurdity of Christmas, about family, and about winter to support us all through this fine and occasionally fraught month.

1. Gathered Family, by Janika Oza (Smokelong Quarterly)

“Just call them aunty and uncle, you say. Even I don’t know all their names. You wonder if Carl understands that they aren’t really family, but that they brought you home-cooked meals every day when your mother was sick and would pick you up from the airport at midnight if you asked them to, and even if you didn’t.”

Find Janika Oza at
Twitter @janikaoza


2. Life Cycle of Fire, by Rosaleen Lynch (Craft Literary)

“We can’t take Mam’s new baby to school, the boys guess as much from my silence and nobody wants Mam to wake and make Baby cry, so when I put him to feed there’s quiet, just suckling sounds and caravan creaks, and now and then the whine of a finger pad sliding across fogged-up glass, drawing stick-children in the window, dancing round the ashes of the fire pit they can see outside”

Find Rosaleen Lynch at
Twitter @quote_52
Bluesky @rosaleenlynch.bsky.social
Threads @52quotesroz

3. The Santas, by Jen Rowe (Retreat West)

A tiny Santa writhed on the floor, rustling its tinsel nest as it squealed its Christmas Eve agonies.

“Josh,” Maureen whispered, “see what the Santa’s bringing you!”

Her son gripped the controller tightly, eyes set on his PS35.    “Mum! Shhh!”

His screen beamed, Congratulations! Level 3! As he thumbed the middle button in just the same way he’d done a thousand times before.

Behind him, the foot-long pudgy-pink Santa, partially clothed in its red woollen coat, grunted and strained.

Find Jen Rowe at

Twitter @Tiptreejen

4. Sky Like Concrete, by Mike Riess (Smokelong Quarterly)

“I turn to Dan to tell him this and the next thing I know I’m horizontal in frozen dirt, looking up at a tree, its branches naked, stiff, numerous, pointing in all directions, and Dan is hovering above my right arm, his upper lip sweating. The dirt is speckled in a deep red and it’s a colony of fire ants and I need to run, run, but it is winter and I am in Iowa and the red spots are not ants but my blood.”

5. O Tannenbaum, by Anika Carpenter (Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Competition)

“Immediately after it happed, Abby was all apologies. Her Dad pretended like it was an accident. Any father would. ‘I could have moved my finger quicker’, he groaned ‘you knew where to land the axe’.”

Find Anika Carpenter at
Twitter @Still Squirrel
Bluesky @stillsquirrel.bsky.social

6. Just a Word to the Snowblind, by Jan Kaneen (National Flash Fiction Day)

“One day you’ll only be able to see snowscapes on hi-res screens, or in the faded pages of magazines – peach-weak sunlight leaching wintery mauves onto bone white roofs and tracks and forests, yesterday’s legend of snow upon snow upon snow upon snow.”

Find Jan Kaneen at
Twitter @JanKaneen1
Bluesky @jankaneen1.bsky.social

7.Spaghetti Junction, by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace (Fractured Lit)

“I’d started Temping the August of my eighteenth birthday. I gifted myself the stationery cupboard, a bag full of paperclips and Post-It Notes. Theft, plus small chugs of Vodka made the hours chain together into long silver lines, of days and weeks, months I could pin-number from a wall.”

Find Elisabeth Ingram Wallace at
Twitter @ingram_wallace

8. Igloo by Emily Devane (New Flash Fiction)

“The winter that Dad left, taking Dougie with him, we all built an igloo. That morning, the garden was covered in a thick white glaze. Mum couldn’t sit still. When she wants something, Mum makes it pretty clear. She does this movement with her fingers where they flex and close, flex and close, as if she’ll burst at any moment.”

Find Emily Devane at
Twitter @DevaneEmily
Threads @emilydevanewriter

Gold star members get an in-depth analysis of The Santas, by Jen Rowe

Explore what makes it so great and how we might apply these lessons to our own stories.

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