Holidays on Ice

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Holidays on IceHolidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Published: 1998
Length: 176 pages

I’ve had this book for a few years now, but I kept forgetting about it during the holidays. I can’t bring myself to read anything related to silver bells or reindeer outside of December, so it kept getting moved to the dark corner of the shelf. I finally remembered it this year and read it as the holidays ramped up (hint as to how far behind I am on my posts). I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas at all this year, so I thought Sedaris’ cynical (I assumed) take on the season would be perfect for me.

This is a collection of fictional and non-fictional humourous essays, and you never know what you’re going to get as you start each one. Most of them are quite dark and they’re all hilarious, although a quick look through the Goodreads ratings show that people are pretty split on how hilarious these are. You really have to be a fan of darker humour to enjoy most of these, I think.

A few of my favourites:

SantaLand Diaries – Sedaris worked as a Christmas elf in a New York Macy’s store in his thirties. He describes the elf training, the different elf positions, the insane parents, and the creepy Santa Clauses. It’s hilarious and is perfect for making your own holidays seem spectacular.

Today a child told Santa Ken that he wanted his dead father back and a complete set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Everyone wants those Turtles.

Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol – Scathing reviews of school Christmas pageants. Being cruel to children is always comedy gold.

In the role of Mary, six-year-old Shannon Burke just barely manages to pass herself off as a virgin. A cloying, preening stage presence, her performance seemed based on nothing but an annoying proclivity toward lifting her skirt and, on rare occasions, opening her eyes. As Joseph, second-grade student Douglas Trazzare needed to be reminded that, although his character did not technically impregnate the virgin mother, he should behave as though he were capable of doing so.

Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!! – An overly cheerful Christmas letter from Mrs. Dunbar to her friends and family to update everyone on their awful, awful year. Sedaris perfected the use of multiple exclamation points in this one.

You’re saying, “There’s no way the Dunbar family can grieve their terrible loss and carry on the traditions of the season. No family is that strong,” you’re thinking to yourselves.

Well, think again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christmas Means Giving – A fictional couple battle their neighbours over who can be more generous, and end up going to grotesque lengths to outdo each other.

Jesus Shaves – Sedaris trying to discuss Easter with his classmates in broken French during a lesson.

I can’t wait to read more of his books. So far I’ve only read this and Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, which are two of his more gimmicky collections I’d think. I’ll probably try an audiobook from him next, as he narrates them himself and is a great reader.

2 thoughts on “Holidays on Ice

  1. Geoff W

    Sedaris is one of those authors that I always think I should read more of his works. I think I’ve only read Me Talk Pretty One Day, but I like his style and I’ve heard him give talks on podcasts. Maybe essays is the way to go with him.

    1. Rob Post author

      I think sometimes his essays almost work better when he reads them. I saw him live a few years back and it was really funny. Looking forward to reading and listening to some more.


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