Not everyone enjoys the holidays. We’ve all heard the story–the suicide and divorce rates go up in December, loners must endure well-meant invitations to gatherings they’d rather not attend, the homeless are besieged by do-gooders and legions of mall Santas endure hours of their privates being kicked by screaming toddlers aware of the congnative dissonance of being told repeatedly to avoid strange men in weird clothes only to be suddenly expected to sit on a strange, weirdly-dressed man’s lap for a picture. Yes, it’s the holidays!
People with taste are expected to endure endless cups of rancid-tasting eggnog (fresh? old? who cares–it all tastes spoiled) and endless crock-pots full of mulled wine made by people who think $5 a bottle is steep. Nursing home residents throw out their hearing aid batteries while besieged with a month-long parade of religious Christmas Carols or politically correct “seasonal” songs equally praising Chanukah, Kwanza, the festival of the Holiday Trees and the Winter Solstice by Brownies, American Heritage Girls, Homeschoolers of all stripes and other groups bearing gluten-free, sugar-free “treats” that the visiting police dogs sniff suspiciously.
Secretaries are given left-over centerpieces from family weddings as “generous” Christmas gifts and mothers-in-law receive yet one more beige cardigan and yet another batch of awful smelling homemade bath salts. Parents destroy their retirement savings getting that “must have” piece of electronic annoyance or that to-die- for outfit that until this year, the year their baby girl turned 13, had only been seen previously on streetwalkers but now is the single must-have on baby girl’s wish list. And teachers get one more unwanted Pinterest-y gift basket that does not include cash, Amazon gift cards, school supplies or Starbucks cards.
Lets face it, the only people who truly enjoy the holidays are real estate lawyers closing one more lucrative year-end deal.
Thankfully, there are a few really humorous Christmas books out there. Today we’ll take a look at two novels for grown ups of any age. If you read my old blog, these are well-known to you. I recommend them both annually.
Back around the time I was born (i.e. the JFK era), Patrick Dennis cranked out several brilliant comedies–Auntie Mame being the most memorable. I happen to think that the Joyous Season was his very best. Billed as a “comedy of manners” set in the wealthiest echelons of New York, this is in fact a tour de force on Christmas, families, marriage with children and life with money. There is little, if anything, here that is p.c. which makes it all the more enjoyable.
Told by 11 year old Kerry, with the subsequent misunderstandings at various times due to his youthful innocence, there is almost nothing I don’t love in this book. It’s my one MUST READ for every Christmas. The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis.
Skipping Christmas rocketed up the bestseller list when all those real estate lawyers’ wives bought it to keep them sane while their husbands closed year-end deals. Seriously, John Grisham, the legal thriller author, put away the Armani suits and braided leather suspenders and wrote, instead, of an empty nest couple trying to ignore the holiday only to have their plans skewered by their Peace Corps volunteer daughter. I’ll leave the rest for you. I also consider the movie version, Tim Allen’s and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Christmas With the Kranks to be “must see” each year. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.