Wednesday, December 23

Christmas Challenge Books

For True Book Addict's Christmas Challenge, I'd decided to read at least one book and then move on to the Obesity Help Rants & Raves book club pick of the month. I just couldn't get into that book, though, and so I went back to the Christmas challenge and read another book. Now I've read books 3 and 4, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham and The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark.

I'd seen Skipping Christmas with TB at the movie theater when it first came out. I thought it was hilarious ... at first. Then something happened that bothered me and it sort of "spoiled" the movie for me. I realized I had a copy of the book here and I'd never read it. I picked it up and wondered if I would feel the same way about the book ... and I did. Here's why:

Luther and Nora Krank are a couple of empty nesters who find themselves facing a Christmas without their adult child, Blair. Blair's joined the Peace Corps and is going to be away, starting with the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. The parents are understandable down-spirited about this. Luther is drawn to a travel agency one day and is totally sold on the idea of a vacation cruise in lieu of staying home to celebrate Christmas. He convinces his wife by saying it won't be the same without Blair and they can afford the trip by cutting out all the expenses of Christmas. I think, in their case, it was like $7,500.

I'm thinking, great idea. Since they are leaving on Christmas day, I don't get why they have to totally forgo the celebration since they obviously have money but I won't argue that point. Nora likes the idea although she's not totally convinced about giving up the tree, the yearly Christmas Eve party, cards, and so on.

Once they put their plans into action, the Christmas terrorists come out of the wooodwork--overbearing neighbors who try to dictate when and how they decorate the outside of the house, employees that don't get the concept of not going to corporate parties or giving meaningless gifts to each other, police/boy scout/other organizations travelling around trying to force their wares (calendar/trees/other) on homeowners in the name of charities, and merchants looking for business (the guy who sells Christmas cards and so on). They think the Kranks are crazy, selfish, or grinchy for not celebrating the way everyone else does and for breaking formation.

So far, it's all funny as all get out and the Christmas Nazis are obnoxious as well as amusing. So what goes wrong?

On Christmas Eve, Blair decides to come home ... and she's bringing a fiance. She asks her mom if the usual party will be happening ... and her mother says YES.

That's what bugged me. A lot.

Luther and Nora are running around like lunatics trying to find Christmas dinner, put together a party, get a tree and yadda yadda yadda. I didn't find it funny. It was pathetic. I was annoyed. I didn't enjoy the story anymore.

I guess if Nora had said, gee, no dear, I'm sorry, we decided to take a cruise instead ... maybe it wouldn't have been "funny". Or maybe it would. Maybe we'd see what kind of daughter Nora and Luther really had. Oh well.

Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark have a few characters they've been reuniting the last couple of years to tell a new Christmas story. The books have been cute and predictable. It's a little too complicated for me to get into all the characters of the book because it was just an enjoyable little bit of fluff. Bottom line: the group is headed to Stowe, VT for a weekend around Thanksgiving. It turns out that the Christmas tree going to Rockefeller Center is being cut down right in that area and they want to go see it. Also headed to Vermont is a recently released con man who hid his stolen loot 12-1/2 years ago in a tree ... guess which tree? It's a nice little story, light hearted and with the usual happy ending.

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