Seasonal reading

I’m more humbug than not when it comes to Christmas, and most of the usual seasonal fare does nothing for me. But I do have two (slightly unconventional) pieces I re-read every year.

The first is “Donner is Dead,” an essay by Cynthia Kaplan. I discovered this piece in an anthology called The Worst Noel: 20 Writers Tell Their Most Hilariously Hellish Holiday Tales, a gift from my brother. Fortunately, Kaplan has also posted the piece online, because it deserves as big an audience as possible. I don’t want to say much about it for fear of spoiling it (although the title does a fair job in that respect). What I will say is this: while I enjoy funny writing, most of it doesn’t actually leave me laughing out loud. Kaplan’s story does. The first time I read it, just before going to sleep, it left me convulsing in laughter, struggling to catch my breath, tears streaming down my cheeks. It has the same effect on me now, even after multiple readings.

The second is Christopher Noxon’s “Irving the Snowchicken is coming to town” from Salon. Again, I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s a truly charming story about one family’s interfaith celebration, which involves a magical rooster. What more need be said? On paper, it’s not the sort of story that I’d guess would have much appeal for me, but it’s sweet and heart-warming and, like the Kaplan piece, holds up well on re-reading.