Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

holidays1Holidays on Ice is not my favorite of Sedaris’ books, but it’s still pretty damn funny. One scene in particular had me unable to stop laughing and I’ll post that towards the end. This short tome collects six of Sedaris’ Christmas stories. I normally call them “essays” but the majority of these are obviously works of fiction. 

My favorite story of the bunch is the first one, “SantaLand Diaries”, in which Sedaris recounts his time spent as a Christmas elf at Macy’s working for Santa. This one was just hilarious as you can imagine. Aiding Santa while he talks to millions of children at a shopping mall is bound to have some incredibly funny moments and I don’t doubt that the bulk of this one is true.

“Seasons Greetings to our Friends and Family!!!” was another one that had me rolling a few times. This is a Christmas letter that a housewife sends out to all of her friends announcing a recent tragedy, bashing her family, and “welcoming” her newly found Vietnamese step daughter who doesn’t speak an ounce of English. 

We follow those up with stories named “Dinah, the Christmas Whore”, “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol”, “Based Upon a True Story”, and “Christmas Means Giving” in which two neighbors compete to the extreme to see who can be the most charitable. 

This is early Sedaris, first published in 1997, and I can say that he’s gotten much better over time. This certainly did have it’s moments though and if you like to play the scrooge occasionally, you’d enjoy this one. I wouldn’t necessarily say my first holiday read got me into the spirit of things, but it sure did make me laugh.

Here’s my favorite little passage taken from “SantaLand Diaries”. Some background info first. When Sedaris worked with one particular Santa, the Santa would try to get him to sing Christmas songs to the children. He did not like this. Here’s the results:

Santa Santa said, “Oh, Little Elf, Little Elf, come sing ‘Away in a Manger’ for us.”

It didn’t seem fair that I should have to solo, so I told him I didn’t know the words.

Santa Santa said, “Of course you know the words. Come now, Sing!”

So I sang it the way Billie Holliday might have sung it if she’d put out a Christmas album. “Away in the manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord, Jesus, lay down his sweet head.”

Santa Santa did not allow me to finish.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge!!!

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12 Responses

  1. it could be partly our expectations and moods too. You’ve come to expect Sedaris to make you laugh alot…. and we can always use a good laugh, so if we don’t get it.. it’s disappointing.
    You are on a good reading roll!.. hope you don’t get too many disappointments..

  2. I bought this one for Rich for Christmas, so I’ll probably be waiting until next year to read it. But I’ve heard him do/read/whatever-the-right-term-is “SantaLand Diaries” on NPR. The guy just totally cracks me up.

  3. It’s good to know this was enjoyable even if it’s not up there with the rest of Sedaris’ work. I guess it’s not the ideal place for me to go next when it comes to him, but I will get to it at some point!

  4. Maybe I should read this book first before reading his other stuff, seeing as how I own him, but haven’t read him. I don’t own this book, though, and I own the other one… decisions decisions.

  5. Deslily, I definitely agree that it’s partly our moods and expectations. I went in with entirely too high of hopes with this one, lol. I still got a few good laughs from it though! I know…I hope I can keep this reading kick up!

    Debi, Oooh, Rich will love it I’m sure! And you definitely have to read it next Christmas. I love listening to Sedaris read his stories. In fact, I’m listening to the audiobook of this one right now. I found it at Borders on clearance for $7.99!

    Nymeth, It was definitely enjoyable! Whatever Sedaris you decide to read next, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

    Kailana, You really can’t go wrong with Sedaris…I think the only reason I was somewhat disappointed in this one is that I’d read his other books and found them funnier. This one is still full of laughs though.

  6. Oh this is fantastic! I was looking for a book for a friend who is kinda anti-christmas. Well she likes the actual day when you spend time with family, but she’s the type who goes crazy for the 2 months before (total believer in the over-commercialization of xmas which will lead to the downfall of society, bigger holes in the ozone and human cloning)
    But anyway, thanks for the cool review, I think this is perfect for her 🙂

  7. Joanne, Oh yeah…I think this book was made for your friend! But then again, it’s a Christmas themed book, she may hate it :p

  8. This was my first experience with Sedaris and I found it to be absolutely hilarious. I read several of the stories out loud to friends and family after I had read it and now (after listening to audio versions of Dress Your Family and Naked) am listening to David tell me these stories again himself. I think Dress Your Family is certainly better writing, especially as it is more autobiographical in nature, but I would rate this collection above Naked, at least as a whole. There are things I loved about Naked, but it felt disjointed to me. All three are books I would recommend without hesitation, however, and would strongly recommend doing what I did which is to check them out from the library. After three weeks of listening to nothing but David Sedaris I can heartily say that hearing him reading his stories adds an entirely new dimension to them and is a real treat.

  9. Carl, I still haven’t read Naked…that one and Barrel Fever are the only two I have left now. I had a friend who loved Naked a few years ago and that’s what got me to discover Sedaris’ writing. I don’t know why I didn’t start with that book :p And I certainly agree that hearing him read his stories adds a whole new dimension. I’m listening to Holidays on Ice right now (found it at Borders for $7.99) and the line that I quoted in this post was 20 times funnier hearing him read it. Sedaris singing like Billie Holiday has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, lol.

  10. I love Holidays on Ice. There’s a playhouse in Atlanta that does a production of “The Santaland Diaries;” it’s pretty much my favorite new holiday tradition. 🙂

  11. It was hilarious, wasn’t it. Some of the stories that were just kind of so-so are so much funnier hearing him read them. Sometimes his inflections are so far off what mine were in my head, much more so than many writers that I hear read their own work.

  12. […] “Bah humbug” type: Holidays on Ice by David […]

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