Holidays on Ice
The holidays are the ultimate juxtaposition. Joy meets its match, disappointment. Calamity meets a calm night spent by the warmth of a roaring fire. The love shared in a hug meets the screams exchanged in a fight.
David Sedaris, a comedian and author, ties together the threads of an ugly, mishmash Christmas sweater in Holidays on Ice, a collection of stories depicting the heaven and hell of the holidays. By gifting readers with 12 stories, it is as if he has found a story for each of the 12 days of Christmas.
The first story in the collection is the greatest gift to readers. SantaLand tells the story of David, the newly hired elf at Macy’s Herald Square. I laughed out loud, in the most literal sense possible. His descriptions of the actions and reactions of children and parents in the fantastical winter wonderland of Macy’s was spot-on.
The second story in the collection, Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!, mirrors the format of the often distributed and rambling letters sent out with Christmas cards. Sedaris’ scandalous and exaggerated version of the typical letter lasts 23 pages and is rife with familial strife. While a bit lengthy, the trials of the Dunbar family over the course of a year are horrid yet comical.
As I complete my review of this holiday story compilation, I am reminded of the third story, Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol. Thaddeus dishes out scathing reviews to children’s Christmas plays. The shows, Thaddeus said, were too eager to please.
I find the same issue with this compilation. While the stories were all well-written, the spark of hilarity that I found in the first story seemed to die out as I read on. There were moments of genius, however, in each of the stories.
In Christmas means Giving, Sedaris describes a keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ scenario that quickly grows out of proportion. The neighbors in this story are hypocrites: they give gifts to others simply so they will receive the gift of attention.
This story and the final stories in the collection have a similar flavor to The Semplica-Girl Diaries, written by George Saunders, another contributor to The New Yorker. Both writers place emphasis on common societal norms that, when taken to the extreme, are rather odd.
Sedaris brings the compilation to a close with The Cow and the Turkey, an Animal Farm-like parable that comments on the negative effects of avoiding even minimal tasks.
Overall, Sedaris’ collection of stories is a present to readers of the humor genre.
The holidays are on thin ice.
I give Holidays on Ice: 4/5 Stars
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