I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

In this now Christmas classic, North Carolina writer, David Sedaris, has written a book of hilarious essays mostly about this holiday, but also includes one on Halloween and one on Easter (in France they don't believe in the Easter Bunny, they believe in the chocolate bell.  And I thought the Easter Bunny was a weird idea).  These essays include his time as a Macy store Elf, the worst Christmas letter/card ever, Christmas plays, two families that do the utmost to outdo each other during the holidays, Dinah the Christmas Whore, and the Dutch version of Santa Claus.

During his time at Macy's as an elf, sometimes it was a hellish job, but he always made it fun by doing things his way.  There are many stations at the wonderland area where the different Santas are (some people get ticked off when they get the "wrong" Santa, be it the black one, the tan one, or the white one).  At one such location, the elf is supposed to encourage people over to get their first view of Santa Claus.  This got old quick, so he started naming celebrities and people would run over to see, only to be disappointed.  However, there were a fair share of celebrities who would come in with their families and he would let the rest of the parents know so they could get a look.

There was one Santa who really believed he was Santa Claus and one Santa that was so loveable and made the experienced so magical that parents would break down in tears.  One bad Santa would make him sing the child's favorite Christmas song.  At his breaking point, he was forced to sing Away in a Manger, so he sang it in Billie Holliday style.  That Santa was more cautious of him from then on.  At the film station, they would unfortunately, have to tell people, if it was late in December, that their photos wouldn't come in until January.  But this was before the digital age when you can now get instant pictures.  Many parents weren't interested in what, if anything, their child had to say on his lap.  But one mom coaxed her son into saying that he wanted Proctor and Gamble to stop animal testing.  Though he never did this job again, it was quite an experience.

In the Christmas card/letter, a woman is trying to put a smile on the awful year she has had.  Her husband's love child from his years in Vietnam appears on his doorstep, a twenty-two-year-old girl who wears a lot of makeup and barely anything else.  She claims not to understand you when you try to get her to help around the house.  Then there's her daughter who married a loser and had a baby with him.  When things go south and her daughter goes into rehab, she takes in the crack baby to raise.  When she leaves to go shopping for a few hours to buy the Christmas gifts she has yet to get, she leaves the baby in the incapable hands of Kheh San and bad things happen.  Her court hearing is after Christmas and she hopes that her friends can come and be character witnesses.

The Dutch version of Santa Claus arrives by boat and horse in November to spend a few weeks there asking people what they want.  He is accompanied by six to eight black men, who were at one time considered his slaves but are now considered his helpers.  If the child was bad, Santa would beat him, kick him, and take him to Spain.  If they were good, they would receive toys in their shoes.

I really loved these stories,and I can't wait to read his other books.  These were hilarious essays and made me really get into the holiday spirit.  This is a must read for those this Christmas.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Ice-David-Sedaris/dp/0316078913/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479662897&sr=1-1&keywords=holidays+on+ice

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