Marie’s Reading: “An Almost Perfect Christmas” by Nina Stibbe

Yeah, I know it’s only November.  Nope, I don’t care.  Because frankly:

Stibbe’s essays about Christmas are charming and funny, filled with affection for the general insanity of the festive season.  She talks about how, as a kid, she was obsessed with visiting Santa because she was convinced they might be her absent father.  There’s an essay devoted to her mother’s inability to roast a turkey that isn’t dry, despite decades of effort.

One of my favorites was the essay about the Christmas tree.   Stibbe bought a very scraggly little tree one year, much to the disappointment of her children.  Stibbe’s observational humor is wonderful, as is her ability to choose the perfect illustrative details and make such excellent characterizations.  It’s a charming essay and a love letter to a little Charlie Brown tree.

My other favorite was about family Christmases at her childhood home as an adult.  Stibbe describes how she and her grown siblings would all come back to their mother and stepfather’s house for the holiday, falling immediately into familiar lines and routines–particularly the traditional trip to the pub.  And somehow, these imperfect visits seem to be the most Christmassy.

Those who enjoy the holidays might want to pick this up–it’s chock-full of very useful and funny advice about gift-giving (gift cards are not Christmas), about the annual Christmas letter (balance the good and the bad so you don’t come off as whiny or bragging), and about how to be both guest and host (special attention given to heating).  Charming and fun and full of cheer, particularly for those of us who simply cannot wait another six weeks.



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