I got my Christmas present early this year: an advance copy of Tracy Curtis’s Holidazed: Wrapping Your Brain Around Christmas. It’s a collection of 30 holiday essays by the Charlotte Observer Humor Columnist, and it will be for sale locally at Park Road Books. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a good girlfriend gift.
Christmas. It conjures up wholesome, happy images, doesn’t it? Pink-cheeked tots jumping in delight in front of a beautifully tinseled tree; a picturesque colonial home, adrift in snow and festooned with lights; a fat man in red, munching homemade cookies and distributing cheer. Families and food and alcohol. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, nothing, if you’re me. My holidays are perfect. But it dawns on me as I chortle my way through Holidazed that maybe not all festive dazzle goes as planned. In a series of pithy, hilarious and often poignant essays, Curtis shines a light on the frantic weeks between late November and New Year’s Day. Facebook Killed The Christmas Card. Yep, that’s true. We see everyone’s gorgeous, perfectly dressed families within two seconds of anyone having a professional photo shoot these days; you don’t have to wait for the holidays. But hold on a sec…Video Killed The Facebook Card. This essay is about that irritatingly telegenic family from Raleigh who put out a video of themselves rapping in their cute coordinating jammies. Curtis’s clean sentences and dry wit perfectly capture the emotions of the rest of us when we realize the ante has been upped to the point of expertly choreographed dance moves on our “Christmas Card.” I’m nodding like a bobblehead doll as I read her words. Whoville or Bust…anyone who’s ever tried to lug a child and all 35,000 pounds of their travel gear through an airport can relate to this one. And best of all, there are two elf-bashing essays: Suffering From Low Elf-Esteem and Regaining My Elf-Control (you know you hate moving those stupid things, admit it.)
Most of Curtis’s essays are funny enough to make you snort eggnog out of your nose. But a few of them will make you ache, too. I Kidney Not, about her sister donating a kidney to their mother is both amusing and sweet. And Love Now…A Tribute, written after the deaths of Curtis’s friend’s entire family in a plane crash is so touching I ran home after reading it and nearly strangled my family in a fierce hug.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my favorite essay, Carol Needs Song Lessons:
How is it possible that with Christmas music starting in October every year, I still don’t know the words to the songs? I pretty much sing everything like this:
“Joy to the world, ba-da, di, dum. Let earth, da da – di da. Let ev-er-ry-y heart-r-rt, bleh bleh bleh bleh bleh – bleh – bleh bleh.”
And my favorite:
“Hark the herald angels sing. Ba ba ba – the newborn King. Peace on earth – ba dum di duh-uh. Mmm Mm Mmm, di-da da daaaa.”
I’ve got a real problem now, because I have a son who’s playing Joseph in a nativity pageant. And because I’m his mother, he only knows the first quarter of each of the five songs he has to sing.
But these songs are so confusing. Christmas speak is totally different from normal speak.
You becomes Ye. And everything starts with “O” – “O Tannenbaum,” “O Holy Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “O Christmas Tree.” And if that’s not enough “O’s” for ya, try “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” O-verkill.
We say things like yonder and yon. Yore, troll and don. We hail and hark and come a-wassailing. And a-caroling. And lords are a-leaping, and maids are a-milking, and swans are a-swimming and geese are a-laying.
Bells jingle – and jingle bells rock. But bells on bobtails ring. Nights are silent – halls are decked. And there’s a lot of glistening from both snow and treetops. Yule-tide is gay. And so is apparel. Heaven and nature sing. And for some reason, pudding is figgy.
If you’d like to meet the author for a book signing and reading, stop by Park Road Books on Sunday December 13th at 2:00. Enjoy your figgy pudding, y’all! And Happy Holidaze!