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

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales

This book of Holliday horror story essays are mostly funny in different ways and some are kind of sad in how bad it really was for that person.  Some of them are written by Jews who try to battle and survive Christmas and those that observe it.  In the first one, a family's car gets hit  by a deer on their way to spend their Christmas holidays.  The writer muses why Darwinism doesn't seem to have affected the deer population.  They have yet to learn to avoid roads and just jump on them willy-nilly.

In the story titled Blue Christmas: The Tour by John Marchese, he talks about some of the odd meeting of the family of girlfriends over the years but focuses on the one with his fiancĂ©e.  "First off, they were Texan, which calls off all bets on behavior.  Second, they were what is called a blended, with a stepmother and stepsister and stepbrother and other extended steps.  Third they were born again, which I took to mean that they would greet me at the front door, get a whiff of my Roman Catholic heathenism, and run panting for the Bible."  Her father and stepmother didn't drink, so he was forced to drink a hideous sherbert punch from hell.  They also were the first to arrive, since they got there on time and no one in that family ever does.  The next person to show up is forty-five minutes late.  By the time most of them have gotten there, it's been at least two hours before they finally eat.  Her step sister Vickie Dickey is on her third marriage, but he is considered a good catch because of his big truck and large knife.  After dinner, they stood around a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.  But he realizes he will get used to them and thankfully it means not having to meet any more new families.

In Chapter Eight, Amy Krouse Rosenthal tells of her Jewish heritage.  She grew up in a family that didn't go to the temple, only observed Passover, and celebrated Christmas.  Then one year, her mother decides it's time to join the temple and not have Christmas.  Instead, they had a bush, a dreidel, chocolate coins, singing Herman The Hanukkah Candle to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and a beautiful Menorah that was the highlight of the event.  One mother, who had never celebrated Hanukkah and decided to for the first time, had no idea how to do it.  She used a sponge as a Menorah and placed eight birthday candles and let them burn down to the sponge.  Catherine Newman who celebrates both holidays as her and her husband are of different religions, has to explain to her son that Santa is a bigot and doesn't send gifts to those religions who don't celebrate Christmas.  As a stocking gift, she had a snow globe made with a picture of them in Mexico.  When the boy sees it, it exclaims, "Santa followed us to Mexico."  And one Jewish grandmother had this to say about Jews celebrating Chrismas: "We celebrate Thanksgiving and we're not Pilgrims."

Joni Rogers chronicles when she stopped believing in Santa.  She was in second grade at the Mount Calvary Evangelical Elementary and the teacher has them spell out Santa.  Then she rearranges the letters to spell Satan.  "Then she went on to explain that Christmas was a lie invented by the Pope, who served the Father of All Lies, and anyone who believed in Santa was stealing baby Jesus's birthday."

Cintra Wilson has another view of Christmas.  There's the fictional perfect Christmas with the elaborate wreaths, great- grand- nonny's china, and precocious three-year-olds.  Then there's the poor lonely people's Christmas: "They spend X-mas in their lousy apartments lighting cigarettes off the space heater, unshaven and sniveling, wearing the clothes they slept in, drinking vodka straight out of the plastic handle jug, and watching the burning Yule Log on TV until it actually seems to have dialogue."  Her way of getting into the Yuletide spirit is to build gingerbread crack houses with frosting graffiti, make a sad snowman on your sidewalk and put a sign on it that says "I am a 56-year-old Vietnam Veteran with Hepatitis C Please Help, and placing crime scene tape around the nativity scene at a church and put a gun in Jesus's hand showing that he shot a wise man.

No matter how bad Christmas can get for you, there is always someone who has had a more rotten one than you and this book shows it in spades.  I can think back to some of my own unhappy Christmases and realize that they were nothing compared to the ones in this book.  This book will make you feel so much better about yourself and the holidays.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Worst-Noel-Hellish-Holiday-Tales/dp/0060838116/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480687583&sr=8-1&keywords=The+worst+noel

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