Title: Skipping Christmas.
Author: John Grisham.
Genre: Fiction, humour.
Publication Date: 2001.
Summary: Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That's just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they'll skip the holiday altogether. Their will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won't be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren't even going to have a tree. They won't need one, because come December 25 they're setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences—and isn't half as easy as they'd imagined. A tale for modern times, the book offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.
My rating: 4/10
♥ A crowd stopped to watch the old Mexican decorate his cigar store window. He was plugging in little robots who trudged through the fake snow, and this delighted the crowd to no end. Luther was forced to move off the curb, and in doing so he stepped just left instead of just right. His left foot sank into five inches of cold slush. He froze for a split second, sucking in lungfuls of cold air, cursing the old Mexican and his robots and his fans and the damned pistachios. He yanked his foot upward and slung dirty water on his pants leg, and standing at the curb with two frozen feet and the bell clanging away and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" blaring from the loudspeaker and the sidewalk blocked by revelers, Luther began to hate Christmas.
♥ How nice it would be to avoid Christmas, he began to think. A snap of the fingers and it's January 2. No tree, no shopping, no meaningless gifts, no tipping, no clutter and wrappings, no traffic and crowds, no fruitcakes, no liquor and hams that no one needed, no "Rudolph" and "Frosty," no office party, no wasted money. His list grew long. He huddled over the wheel, smiling now, waiting for heat-down below, dreaming pleasantly of escape.
♥ A year earlier, the Luther Krank family had spent $6,100 on Christmas—$6,100!—$6,100 on decorations, lights, flowers, a new Frosty, and a Canadian spruce; &6,100 on hams, turkeys, pecans, cheese balls, and cookies no one ate; $6,100 on wines and liquors and cigars around the office; $6,100 on fruitcakes from the firemen and the rescue squad, and calendars from the police association; $6,100 on Luther for a cashmere sweater he secretly loathed and a sports jacket he'd worn twice and an ostrich skin wallet that was quite expensive and quite ugly and frankly he didn't like the feel of it. On Nora for a dress she wore to the company's Christmas dinner and hew own cashmere sweater, which had not been seen since she unwrapped it, and a designed scarf she loved, $6,100. On Blair $6,100 for an overcoat, gloves and boots, and a Walkman for her jogging, and, of course, the latest, slimmest cell phone on the market—$6,100 on lesser gifts for a select handful of distant relatives, most on Nora's side—$6,100 on Christmas cards from a stationer three doors down from Chip's, in the District, where all prices were double; $6,100 for the party, an annual Christmas Eve bash at the Krank home.
And what was left of it? Perhaps a useful item or two, but nothing much—$6,100!
With great relish Luther tallied the damage, as if it had been inflicted by someone else. All evidence was coming neatly together and making a very strong case.
He waffled a bit at the end, where he'd saved the charity numbers. Gifts to the church, to the toy drive, to the homeless shelter and the food bank. But he raced through the benevolence and came right back to the awful conclusion: $6,100 for Christmas.
"Nine percent of my adjusted gross," he said in disbelief. "Six thousand, one hundred. Cash. All but six hundred nondeductible."
♥ She decided that she wouldn't miss the entire ritual of Christmas cards. She wouldn't miss the tedium of writing all those little messages, and hand-addressing a hundred or so envelopes, and stamping them, and mailing them, and worrying about who she forgot. She wouldn't miss the bulk they added to the daily mail, and the hastily opened envelopes, and the standard greetings from people as hurried as herself.
♥ The boys began to look at their feet, as wounded children will do...
♥ More encounters were coming, no doubt, and that was one of the very reasons Luther disliked Christmas. Everybody selling something, raising money, looking for a tip, a bonus, something, something, something. He grew indignant again and felt fine.
♥ Women handled Christmas, not men. They shopped and decorated and cooked, planned parties and sent cards and fretted over things the man never thought about. Why, exactly, was Luther so keen on dodging Christmas when he put so little effort into it?
♥ Give me a heart attack or a car wreck, something quick. Something that cannot be whispered about while I linger.
♥ Luther took a deep breath and gazed up and down Hemlock. Eyes were watching him, he felt sure, the way they'd been peeking at him for weeks now. How did he become such a villain in his own neighborhood? Why was it so hard to dance to his own beat once in a great while? To do something no one had dared? Why all this resentment from people he'd known and liked for years?
♥ A door opened across the street, and the Galdy family made a noisy exit from the Kranks' living room. Laughter and music escaped with them and echoed above Hemlock. The party showed little signs of breaking up.
Standing there at the edge of the street, light snow gathering on his wool cap and collar, gazing at his freshly decorated house with almost the entire neighborhood packed into it, Luther paused to count his blessings. Blair was home, and she'd brought with her a very nice, handsome, polite young man, who was quite obviously crazy about her. And who, at that moment, was very much in charge of the party along with Marty Whatshisname.
Luther himself was lucky to be standing, as opposed to lying peacefully on a slab at Franklin's Funeral Home, or pinned to a bed in ICU at Mercy Hospital, tubes running everywhere. Thoughts of snowballing down his roof, head-first, still horrified him. Very lucky indeed.
Blessed with friends and neighbors who would sacrifice their plans for Christmas Eve to rescue him.
He looked up to his chimney where the Brixleys' Frosty was watching him. Round smiling face, top hat, corncob pipe. Through the flurries Luther thought he caught a wink from the snowman.
Starving, as usual, Luther suddenly craved smoked trout. He began trekking through the snow. "I'll eat a fruitcake too," he vowed to himself.
Skipping Christmas. What a ridiculous idea.
Maybe next year.