Sunday, December 11, 2011

my holiday reading list

I love nothing more than curling up with a nice glass of wine and a good book in the warmth of a hot and steamy bathtub. During this magical time of year, I enjoy revisiting some of my favorite holiday tomes. I hope that you find something below that tickles your festive fancy, too!

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

"Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe."

This heartwarming story of holiday horror had me at "creeping Christmas thing." There's something in this book for everyone - Santa, crazy warrior babes who wield swords and hear voices in their heads, science, animals like dogs and talking fruit bats, and zombies. Cool, huh?

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

This delightful Christmas collection features David's breakout piece, The Santaland Diaries, which includes a passage that makes me giggle no matter how many times I read it. I don't know if it's my Catholic and then fundamental Christian upbringing that makes this so funny to me, but take a read:

"We were standing near the Lollipop Forest when we realized that Santa is an anagram for Satan. Father Christmas or the Devil - so close but yet so far. We imagined a Satanland where visitors would wade through steaming pools of human blood and feces before arriving at the Gates of Hell, where a hideous imp in a singed velvet costume would take them by the hand and lead them toward Satan. Once we thought of it we couldn't get it out of our minds. Overhearing the customers we would substitute the word Satan for Santa.

'What do you think, Michael? Do you think Macy's has the real Satan?'"

It also features other instant holiday classics like "Dinah, the Christmas Whore." While each of those tales literally makes me laugh out loud, my very favorite Sedaris holiday tale is not in this collection. My fave is called, "Six To Eight Black Men" and can be found in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. The essay shares the story of the Dutch Saint Nicholas as told to David while traveling in Holland.

Apparently Saint Nick is the former Bishop of Turkey who travels around on Christmas Eve sneaking into the rooms of Dutch kids with six to eight black men (no one seems to be able to agree on the exact number) and, depending on whether the kid was naughty or nice, will either leave presents in the tot's shoes OR stuff him in a sack and beat him with switches - possibly taking the kid back to Turkey with them. I don't know about you, but I think this would be a much more motivating story for kids than the seriously lame threat of coal.

You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs
I never thought another irreverent collection of holiday humor could warm my cockles and tickle my funny bone as well as that of my beloved David Sedaris (see above). But I was wrong. Augusten's Christmas stories are awesome and brought tears to my eyes from both laughter and (yes, it's true!) that warm, fuzzy feeling some may call "heartwarming." One of my favorite passages is from an essay entitled, "Why Do You Reward Me Thus?" that goes into the absurdity of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Here's a snippet:

"...And what's the message? Did you ever notice that a lot of the alleged 'gifts' happen to be people? Eight maids a-milking, so that's prepubescent girls forced into labor, probably inserting the underwire into bras. And then nine ladies dancing? That's the sex trade. I won't even go into the five golden rings. But somebody's paying somebody off for something. Human trafficking and birds? That's a good Christmas song?

"Oh, and swans, which are the drunk, violent ex-boyfriends of the bird world. Because what would any holiday be without a little domestic violence?"

Ah, Augusten! You may just be a man after my own, shriveled holiday heart. (That, I hate to admit, has indeed gotten very warm this holiday season).

Well, there you have it! My favorite yuletide reads. I also love more traditional, childlike wonder-filled tales like The Polar Express and Auntie Claus, but nothing works the holiday magic for me quite so well as a snarky take on an often-simpering holiday - and throwing in a few meaningful, good-will-toward-men and peace-on-earth tidbits here and there doesn't totally suck, either.


Karen said...

Thanks for sharing your reading list! I definitely need to read some David Sedaris after hearing about him from several friends. Oh, Julie and I were having a random conversation about The Polar Express just today after noticing that the little boy is never given a name in the book or the movie - just a silly, random fact...

Terri said...

Love it!