by Ann Lehue, MLS, Senior Manager, Collection Development
Sure it’s the most wonderful time of the year and all, but some of us are ready to move on to the long, joyless winter, whether it’s because our dog’s poop is suddenly runny and flocked, we can’t remember where we put that creepy elf, or we have relatives who show up parked in a camper in our front yard, putting down a long-term sewer line. My family holiday traditions generally involve drunken axe-throwing and shooting contests, along with the arrival of disgruntled police officers every few hours. Subdivisions aren’t as fun as they used to be. Let’s all just curl up with a copy of Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges and down some fermented pumpkin spice until spring.
For people who like to make themselves feel better by reading about families more messed up than their own, David Sedaris’s Holidays on Ice includes the diaries of a Macy’s elf, the baffling Christmas traditions of other nations, and more hilarious reflections in his distinctive and completely irreverent (lots of swears) voice. If you enjoy quirky people who swear, Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoirfeatures stories of a twisted upbringing starring an unusual number of taxidermy animals—not specifically Christmas, but a great gift or holiday distraction nonetheless. People with more cerebral than trashy weird families might take comfort in Nathan Pyle’s popular Instagram-turned-book, Strange Planet.
Speaking of aliens, award-winning actor John Lithgow recently penned a satirical set of poems lambasting the Trump presidency in Dumpty, and controversial politics are always a great topic at the holiday table. To help create that table, Ian Flitcroft presents Oh Come All Ye Tasteful: The Foodie’s Guide to a Millionaire’s Christmas Feast, which will “help you create a quirky Christmas dinner that is so wildly impressive that even the most curmudgeonly great aunt or begrudging mother-in-law will swoon.” His first book was The Reluctant Cannibals, which I also assume was based on mothers-in-law, although the reluctant part might be inaccurate.
Anyone who thinks Die Hard is a weird movie for Christmas can confirm just how weird it is with A Die Hard Christmas: the Illustrated Holiday Classic, which presents the movie as a picture book in the style of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Any book with the LC Subject Headings Christmas fiction, Hostages, Stories in rhyme, and Terrorism is a book that I’ll be reading to the little neighbor kids on Christmas Eve. “I can’t sleep, mom.” “You’re just excited about Christmas… get off the potty and go to bed.” “THE POTTY WILL EXPLODE!” “Were you at that librarian’s house again?” Speaking of pooping (writing that phrase made my school loans so worth it), check out We Wish You a Poopy Christmas: Fudgy the Poopman’s Collection of Christmas Classics Made Crappy. The publisher calls it “a hilariously sh*tty holiday gift for everyone who loves Christmas and anyone who poops.” Well, count me in.
Family traditions shine in several inspiring titles for the season. Ezra and Miriam Elia promise to “joyfully ruin the Yuletide festival period for children and adults alike” in We Do Christmas. With inspirational passages such as “’Shopping is consumerist rape,’ says Mummy, ’but I really like these shoes,’” the story gently undermines Father Christmas’s “vicious program of indoctrination” without becoming didactic or harsh. And of course, what holiday is complete without America’s favorite family, The Simpsons Homer for the Holidays... Because beer.
New and old traditions—Elf on the Shelf, caroling, and ghost stories—make the season bright. If you have awakened in a cold sweat, suddenly remembering that you forgot to move that elf, I suggest that you tell your children that the elf is so stunned by their bad behavior that it has gone into a state of stuporous catatonia and probably won’t recover. If you want to coddle your children so that they don’t require even more therapy, though, you could read 101 Things to Do with Your Christmas Elf to get some good ideas for scenes you could quickly create before the kids wake up. If you need more than 101 ideas, then you should probably cut down your Christmas season. If you get tired of singing the same old inspirational songs, warm up your voice with a few salmonella-laced eggnogs and join the undead in a few rounds of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies!: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols. And speaking of the undead, check out this anthology of famous authors (including library superhero Neil Gaiman) writing about Ghosts of Christmas Past: A Chilling Collection of Modern and Classic Christmas Ghost Stories.
Parenting during the busy holidays is especially hard, so put down the alcohol (Did you know that one Sip thermos holds exactly a bottle of wine? You’re welcome.) and discover Reasons My Kid Is Crying, such as, “I broke this cheese in half.” (Well, that might be a bad example, because cheese is totally worth crying over.) For more biographical reads to make you feel better about your parenting, try Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind and Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies). Once you have scared the children to sleep with tales of Santa not coming, snuggle up and read Love Poems for People with Children, a new hilarious collection by Thurber-Prize-winning author John Kenney.
Sometimes the best way to help patrons is through displays that show they are not alone in their holiday angst. So stop watching the Golden Retriever laden Hallmark movies, put away the singing Christmas tree, and check out our list of snarky books.