“Christmas Spirit”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 💀❄️👻❄️👼

Mark your calendars! In their infinite wisdom, the organizers of Boswords have asked me back to create another puzzle. This time it’s for their Winter Wondersolve event next month (registration opens 1/1), and I won’t be working alone! Jessie is co-constructing this puzzle, which will be her first tournament grid. We hope to see you there!

In other news, check out the Universal puzzle on Wednesday 12/30 for a collaboration between myself and my x-wife Amanda Rafkin. This one happens to fall on my birthday!

Having said that, please don’t feel obliged to fuss over me. When your birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s *and* you have a twin sister who is way cooler than you *and* three of your four nephews (also cooler than you) happen to have been born in December, well… I’m numb to a no-big-deal birthday. No, that’s not a single tear rolling down my cheek.

Thoughts and spoilers for “Christmas Spirit” after the j-j-j-jump!

*TECHnically* White Walkers aren’t “dead” 🤓

I suppose this whole idea hinges on whether or not you’ll allow that JACK SKELLINGTON was ever “alive” to begin with… I rewatched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to satisfy myself, and at one point Jack sings (in “Jack’s Lament”), “And since I am dead, I can take off my head / To recite Shakespearean quotations …”. Bingo!

Other potential theme answers that I discarded were MELTING SNOWMAN (though, lol), WHITE WALKERS (not *technically* dead), DONNER PARTY (there was a cannibalistic Trudeau among them!).

The theme set you see here, comprising MARLEY’S GHOST, CLARENCE, and JACK SKELLINGTON, feels tight and consistent. They’re all well-known Christmas movie characters, all reanimated in various ways, and all confirmed to have died in their respective cinematic universes. Voilà! The DEAD OF WINTER. I did play with CLARENCE ODBODY as a 14-long counterpart to THE DEAD OF WINTER, but the resulting grid options were pretty, uh, avant-garde.

Happy solving, friends!


8 thoughts on ““Christmas Spirit”

  1. My favorite 21D is in the 1951 “A Christmas Carol” movie with Alastair Sim. Thanks for the haunting puzzle! And I will never make the drive to Truckee without thinking of Jean Baptiste!

  2. Christmas, Birthday, and New Year’s, all in one week. I know that it happens, but Yikes! Especially considering the circumstances,I hope you had a swell Christmas, and have an even sweller Birthday, and I hope we all have a way better New Year. Oh yeah, the puzzle: Thanks for the seasonal reminders of mortality, Ross.

  3. We had just a delightful Christmas. My parents called via zoom to read “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to my niece and nephews on Christmas eve, which turned out to be a real tear-jerker of a tradition for me this year. Happy New Year, Blaine!

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