Holidays on Ice
by David Sedaris
(Little, Brown $17)
Back in 1997, David Sedaris’ holiday-themed short stories came off as a frigidly funny “indictment of our nation’s seasonal kitsch and thoughtless consumption,” said Alexandra Jacobs in The New York Times. Sedaris’ wit goes down even better in this era of tightened credit and strained holiday cheer. The six extra stories in this expanded edition are a bit more Elmer’s Glue–and–glitter than gold. But the old stuff, such as the seminal “SantaLand Diaries,” still provokes a laugh even if it feels “regifted.”
An Old-Fashioned Christmas
by Patrick Regan
(Andrews McMeel, $10)
This gag book pairs photos from the 1930s through 1960s with occasionally clever captions, said Sara Frederick in The Miami Herald. A smiling Donna Reed–esque mother serving a turkey celebrates a perfect Christmas thanks to her “happy pills,” while a “rosy-cheeked St. Nick” gets his jolliness from “the hootch.” The real fun is the photos themselves, however. You can often guess what year they were taken from the dated fashions, but it would have been nice to know for sure.
The Man Who Invented Christmas
by Les Standiford
By having Ebenezer Scrooge buy a turkey for Bob Cratchit’s family, Charles Dickens may have literally killed the Christmas goose, said Chauncey Mabe in the Chicago Tribune. But more important, argues Les Standiford, the publication of A Christmas Carol brought about “the restoration of Dickens’ fortunes” and revived Christmas’ popularity in both England and America. Standiford’s well-written book won’t impress Dickens scholars, but for the rest of us, it will shine new light on a familiar story.
Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland
by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins
“Many a family photo op has been marred” by little Johnny’s fear of the fat man in the funny red suit, said Susan Van Atten in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This collection culls several hundred photos of “real visits to Santa and the fits of despair they inspired.” It could make you laugh, or bring back a long-submerged memory of a bygone trip to the mall. Not recommended for small children.