Wednesday, December 24, 2003

It's almost Christmas here. I see from the NORAD Santa tracking site that the jolly old elf is over Moscow right now. Funny, that usually sounds so far away to me, but this year it's practically next door.

One of my favorite personal holiday traditions of recent years is to read Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. The official Amazon review says:

Holidays on Ice is a collection of three previously published stories matched with three newer ones, all, of course, on a Christmas theme. David Sedaris's darkly playful humor is another common thread through the book, worming its way through "Seasons Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" a chipper suburban Christmas letter that spirals dizzily out of control, and "Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol," a vicious theatrical review of children's Christmas pageants. As always, Sedaris's best work is his sharply observed nonfiction, notably in "Dinah, the Christmas Whore," the tale of a memorable Christmas during which the young Sedaris learns to see his family in a new light. Worth the price of the book alone is the hilarious "SantaLand Diaries," Sedaris's chronicle of his time working as an elf at Macy's, covering everything from the preliminary group lectures ("You are not a dancer. If you were a real dancer you wouldn't be here. You're an elf and you're going to wear panties like an elf.") to the perils of inter-elf flirtation. Along the way, he paints a funny and sad portrait of the way the countless parents who pass through SantaLand are too busy creating an Experience to really pay attention to their children. In a sly way, it carries a holiday message all its own. Read it aloud to the adults after the kids have gone to bed.

I'm especially fond of the "Santaland Diaries." If you click here, you can listen to Sedaris read a slightly sanitized version of the essay on NPR's "Morning Edition."

I tried to find either a text copy or an unabridged audio copy of the story but couldn't. What I did find, however, was almost as good: The Discontented Elf, in which an unknown elf (Elf X) blogs his (her?!) day-to-day experiences at an unnamed New York City department store. I only wish I had found this earlier in the season!

Well, it looks like Santa has dropped down to northern Africa. I imagine he'll be swooping north through Italy soon. Germany can't be far behind. Guess I'd better get to bed now.

Merry Christmas to all!

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