Do you embrace holiday hoopla, or do you count the days until it’s all over? I’m in the latter camp, and I’m planning ahead – looking for books, movies, ideas, anything to get me through the seasonal shenanigans with a smile on my face.
It’s that time of the year again, already. Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Diwali – check. Next up, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas. Kylie turned on the Oxford Street lights a couple of weeks ago, and every TV channel, magazine and billboard is saturated with images of happy, smiling, picture-perfect families celebrating together. No wonder people get stressed, crazy and broke trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal.
I’m a holiday humbug, have been for as long as I can remember. I’ve been trying to figure out why, since I love my family and my husband’s family, believe the world could use more kindness and generosity, and would never, ever turn down a good party. I think my problem is that I hate being told what to do, let alone when and how to do it. As soon as somebody hands me a set of rules – you must be with these people on this day, do this and feel that– the voice in my head says like hell I will, before I even consider whether it’s something I want to do or not.
In the past my husband and I had seasonal festivity avoidance down to a fine art. We spent our Christmases trekking in Nepal (sunrise over Gaurishankar, breathtaking, check out the photo to the right), on safari in Kenya (watching giraffes before breakfast followed by a dip in the river), cross-country ski-ing in Swedish Lapland, and one super-memorable year we visited Bhutan. That was amazing. Now things have changed. My mum is a widow and my brother lives several thousand miles away, so we stay home and embrace the Christmas spirit, but I have to work at it.
In the interests of my sanity and to help me approach the holidays in the right frame of mind, I’d love to find some fun books or movies to spoil myself with, stories that provide a nice balance to the whole relentless holiday machine. Still upbeat and seasonal, but with a little more oomph, kapow, snark or humor, and minimal saccharine.
The only thing I can think of is Jenny Crusie’s novella Hot Toy, which was originally part of an anthology but has been re-released this year as a stand-alone. Competitive children’s gift shopping, hi-tech spies, over-the top-action, disastrous cake-making, the beginnings of a romance and plenty of superbly snarky dialogue – I love this book. So did Jayne at Dear Author who gave it a ‘recommended’ and an ‘A’ grade. Read her review here.
I can’t spend a whole week reading and re-reading Hot Toy. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’d be eternally grateful.
Or if you’re a smiley seasonal sparklepants, please share your feelgood recommendations below. They probably won’t be my thing, but I’m sure there are other readers of this post who’ll appreciate them 😉 . Thanks!