The Bookworm: Reading the joy of the holidays

“Christmas Sucks”

by Joanne Kimes

Cheer? Bah.

Goodwill toward men? Unlikely.

Holly jolly? Uh-huh, right.

You’re supposed to believe that Christmas is the most wonderful time of year. Even the song says so, but between school pageants, crowds at the mall, holiday traffic, lack of money, wrapping, baking, parties, decorating, shipping out packages, traveling to family get-togethers, trying to get along with everybody once you get together …

That buzz in your head? That’s the “hum” in “humbug.”

So what can you do to cope? First, admit that “Christmas Sucks,” then grab a cup of cheer and join author Joanne Kimes in her new book by the same name. Pretty soon, you’ll be ho-ho-ho-ing.

Christmas is for togetherness (unfortunately, with his family, too). Christmas is for the kids (and the toys that require every battery in the house). It’s for giving gifts (to people you really barely know), setting up a tree (after fighting with the knotted lights) and parties (4,500 calories, straight to the thighs). It’s for wrapping (tossing things in a gift bag) and caroling (making up words). And, admit it, that stinks.

So how do you cope? Kimes says there are lots of ways to live through the holidays without locking yourself in the bedroom for the month of December. In this book, she offers some tips, along with plenty of laughs.

If shopping fills you with dread, plan to do your gift-buying early, Kimes says. Start in January with a list of the people you know you need a present for, and squirrel those gifts away year-round. Try to be done shopping by Oct. 30.

Without a doubt, somebody you didn’t shop for will show up at your door with a gift for you. Save yourself from embarrassment by having a few things under the tree, wrapped, that you can give, quick.

Know what to tip and when. Make a budget for everything, then add 25 percent for “incidentals” so you’re not surprised when the bills arrive in January. Be prepared for in-Santa-ty. Give up competing with the Joneses’ decorating. And when Dec. 26 rolls around, congratulate yourself. Christmas wasn’t so bad after all.

So your Christmas isn’t exactly a Hallmark card come to life? Had it up to your ears with “Jingle Bells”? Tired of baking things you never get to eat? Join the club, and read “Christmas Sucks.”

When it comes to all the stresses of the holidays, author Joanne Kimes is the perfect person with which to commiserate. She pokes fun at everything Christmas lovers hold dear, but she’s not nasty. Instead, this book is bawdy and hilarious, filled with so many familiar holiday scenarios that you’ll see yourself and your family in almost every page. The great part is that while you’re chuckling and nodding your head in agreement, you’re also getting real, use-able tips on taking the mess out of Christmess.

Anyone who’s ever re-gifted, re-wrapped, re-circled the lot for a parking spot or reveled in the holidays will love this laugh-out-loud book. “Christmas Sucks” will put ha-ha-ha into your ho-ho-ho.

“‘Tis the Season!”

by Lorna Landvik

You never meant to do it.

You were out with friends, that’s all, just having a little cheer. The waiter brought you a glass of something bubbly, and in between reminiscing and laughter, the glass was emptied so you had another. You took a wee nip from that one ‘til you nipped it clear to the bottom.

And the morning after, you’re wondering what happened the night before.

If heiress Caroline Dixon wants to know how the party went, she looks in the gossip pages. Her every move is in there, perfect fodder for the tabloids because Caro is a walking, talking scandal. In the new novel, “‘Tis the Season!” by Lorna Landvik, it seems as if Caro is the person America loves to hate most.

Caroline Dixon’s life is a wreck. Most of her friends have been driven away by Caro’s sharp tongue, and her family is horrified by her partying and carousing. Caro makes the tabloids on a regular basis; so much, in fact, that she’s at the top of the Most Unadmired Man and Woman in America list. Even the few people who cared about Caro once, don’t care any more.

That is, except two people who knew Caroline many years ago.

Astrid Brevald was once Caroline’s nanny, back when Caro was a young girl with a chip on her shoulder. She remembers Caro as a funny child, and very loving despite her parents’ indifference. Now, there’s a message in Astrid’s in-box. It’s Caroline, on Step Number Eight of her Twelve-Step Program, apologizing for any hurt she may have caused in the past.

On the other side of the world, Cyril Dale gets a similar e-mail. Cyril and his late wife ran a ranch for many years, and 14-year-old Caroline Dixon was once a temporary resident, shipped to the ranch one summer for asking too many questions as her father lay dying of cancer. Even then, she had a sharp tongue but Cyril remembers a sweet girl with attitude hiding a breaking heart.

Not wanting to spend Christmas with only his horses as company, Cyril invites Caroline and Astrid to come to the ranch for an old-fashioned family holiday on the mesa. But he has a surprise gift for the two women, one that almost makes the season a reason for very hurt feelings.

Do your kids clamor for a new Christmas book to be read-aloud each Yuletide? While you’re looking for a book for them, get this one for yourself and start your very own personal tradition.

Through a series of e-mails and gossip columns, “‘Tis the Season!” unfolds as Caroline gains the respect of long-lost friends as well as herself. Author Lorna Landvik knows how to tell a story, and this flurry-of-messages in book form is a definite delight for old fans and new ones.

“‘Tis the Season!” is a book you can read faster than a 5-year-old can rip the paper off a present, and I think you’ll like it. ‘Tis a wonderful Christmas story to curl up with this year.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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