Let­ter from the Ed­i­tor


I love Christ­mas. I find it sig­nif­i­cant to cer­e­mo­ni­ously pro­mul­gate this now, af­ter years of meet­ing peo­ple who claim that they don’t. Th­ese peo­ple don’t nec­es­sar­ily hate Christ­mas; they just don’t love it. On the record, I’ve had small tri­umphs in con­vert­ing the cyn­ics of my gen­er­a­tion into gra­tu­itously wal­low­ing in the warmth and sparkle of the hol­i­day sea­son. I reckon my evan­gel­i­cal fer­vor has been too in­spir­ing (or an­noy­ing, in some cir­cles) for them not to find the need to be­lieve. Some of them would read­ily at­test to how I reek of snowflakes or pineap­ple-glazed Christ­mas ham. For the ma­jor­ity of you who are won­der­ing, here’s how I do it.

First, I give an un­so­licited re­view of re­lated lit­er­a­ture. Noth­ing too Dick­en­sian, of course, but the more eas­ily di­gestible, such as Hol­i­days on Ice by David Sedaris. It’s a slen­der vol­ume of hi­lar­i­ous Christ­mas-themed sto­ries, in­clud­ing “San­taLand Diaries,” an ac­count of the au­thor’s job ex­pe­ri­ence as an elf. An­other fa­vorite of mine in this col­lec­tion is “Front Row Cen­ter with Thad­deus Bris­tol,” theater re­views from a critic who con­demns the “shoddy pro­duc­tion val­ues and dry, leaden pac­ing” and “inat­ten­tive shep­herds” of some mid­dle school Christ­mas pro­duc­tions. If “Christ­mas Means Giv­ing” or “Di­nah, the Christ­mas Whore” doesn’t put skep­tics in the hol­i­day mood, I move on to my sec­ond plan.

I rec­om­mend watch­ing old episodes of Nigella’s Christ­mas Kitchen on the BBC. Ar­guably, no bet­ter gospel has been in­vented since the orig­i­nal na­tiv­ity story. Nigella, her voice deep and her speech stir­ringly elo­quent, can con­vince any­one that pomegranate seeds are “glo­ri­ous” and that Christ­mas minced meat pies have to be star-shaped. Her “spruced up” vanilla cake is molded from a bak­ing tin shaped like a clus­ter of pine trees, and Let it Snow be­gins to play as soon as she lets an un­abashed dust­ing of pow­dered sugar fall on its peaks. To quote the un­fail­ing Mrs. Law­son, you can never be too kitsch for Christ­mas.

When I’m feel­ing par­tic­u­larly in­dus­tri­ous and have time on my hands, I make Christ­mas mix­tapes (or re­cently, mix-flash­drives) for friends and the oc­ca­sional stranger. The base of my hol­i­day mix are “Christ­mas with the Rat Pack” songs, with some in­stru­men­tal tracks from A

Char­lie Brown Christ­mas and a Kanye West song or two thrown in there. While my friends play my Christ­mas mix-tape in their cars or rooms, I also sug­gest a change of cold weather clothes, just to make the whole ex­pe­ri­ence more le­git. Jas­mine Cur­tis-Smith wear­ing a fur coat on our cover this month is a good ex­am­ple. I never got to talk to Jas­mine much about her opin­ions of Christ­mas, but af­ter suggest­ing she put on some heavy pink fuzzi­ness on a hu­mid night, mo­ments af­ter we’ve had Korean ra­men served in a stone pot, I fig­ured bring­ing up snow might dampen her morale. As I would later learn, she’s a lot tougher and more gung-ho than most give her credit for.

There is a line from the Roberto Bo­laño poem, La Francesca, in which the hero­ine de­scribes a love “as brief as the sigh of a guil­lotined head.” (It sounds more hand­some in Span­ish. Un amor

breve como el sus­piro de una cabeza guil­loti­nada.) I guess that pretty much sums up how I feel about Christ­mas. Ev­ery year, I ache for it to last longer, long af­ter it’s over. How can I not? It’s the most beau­ti­ful time of the year. And props to you who de­tected that Justin Bieber lyric.

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