Monday, January 23, 2017

Grumpy Christmas Stories

Took me long enough to get down to reading David Sedaris' collection of 12 uhhh grouchy Christmas short essays 'Holidays on Ice' (2009), the revamped e-version with the six new stories, one that's never been published. You might have read some that have been published in journals here and there.

These aren't happy festive stories. They're sarcastic, grouchy and rude. That's exactly why I love them. I like David Sedaris' writing anyway. And I enjoy the gritty painful reality, as well as the stark-in-your-face snark in these stories. Nothing is viewed through rose-tinted glasses. The first story (which is provided as a sample) already packs a punch. 'SantaLand Diaries' traces the journey of a thirty-something grown man getting a job at Macy's December carnival as a full-time Elf.

During the brief interview I was asked why I wanted to work for UPS and I answered that I wanted to work for UPS because I like the brown uniforms. What did they expect me to say? 
"I'd like to work for UPS because, in my opinion, it's an opportunity to showcase my substantial leadership skills in one of the finest private delivery companies this country has seen since the Pony Express!" 
I said I liked the uniforms and the UPS interviewer turned my application facedown on his desk and said, "Give me a break."

'Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!' is written in the way of a festive/holiday family newsletter from The Dunbars. I ignored the tragedy within and frowned at the stereotype of Vietnamese refugees, and also rolled eyes at a dysfunctional family and its weird dynamics. Another good one is the final story in the book 'The Cow and the Turkey'. Of the animals on a farm doing a gift exchange at Christmas-time. What a parable. Hahaha. Secret Santa dos and don'ts, and don't be greedy. Or you could take it another way, how nice people don't get good endings, ever.

Oh, how his cheerfulness grated on her. Waiting for Christmas Eve was murder, but wait the cow did, and when the time was right — just shortly after breakfast — she siddled up beside him. "You do know they'll be cutting your head off, don't you?" she whispered. 
The turkey offered his strange half-smile, the one that said both "You're kidding" and "Please tell me you're kidding." 
"If it's not the farmer it'll be one of his children," the cow explained. "The middle one, probably, the boy with the earring. There were some jokes about doing it with a chain saw, but if I know them they'll stick to the ax. It's more traditional." 
The turkey laughed, deciding it was a joke, but then he saw the pleasure in the cow's face and knew that she was telling the truth.

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