Gory of Christmas

Merry Kitschmas makes it a cruel yule

Don't hate Christmas because it's so commercialized or expensive or even religious. It's religious? Right, Christmas.

No, if you should hate Christmas, you should hate it for its sameness: the artificial tree you unfurl, the picture ornament a distant niece sends of a new baby you never heard about, the obligatory trip to Rogers Gardens for this year's Christopher Radko bauble, the celery with pimento spread no one ever eats.

It, as Yogi Berra so quotably said, is dj vu all over again. But not if you know how to read: then there's a book, Merry Kitschmas (Chronicle Books), for that. Except if you're Jewish, and then there's a book, Judaikitsch, for that, too. Uh, back to Kitschmas. They didn't send me the other one.

Which is maybe a good thing for you; if you're into the majestic experience of Hanukkah, the whole glory of Christmas, you should stop reading now.

Kitschmas authors Michael D. Conway and Peter Medilek do for the holiday what screeching animatronic witches now on sale at Ralphs do for Halloween, what The Stepford Wives remake did for July 4: they goof it up.

After reading this and looking at all the pretty pictures, there's no way you'll be able to pose again for the family's annual Christmas picture with your chest puffed out quite so far.

Here's Christmas with an extra cheese log; the quivering tower of cranberry sauce, with tin-can speed lines still intact; a tiny, green Tinkertoy tree hung with white powdered donuts; another stabbed with scores of toothpicked cocktail weenies; Barry White and Aretha Franklin wreaths ("Oh, Baby"); recipes for Tiny Tim's Christmas Feast (a Cornish game hen) and Santa's Hot Buttered Rum Balls; and a few bedazzled sweat shirts to finish things off.

Anyone, the cover blurb says, can celebrate Christmas; it apparently takes a real hipster to bring this much irony to so holy a time, to revel in Kitschmas is how they say it. Or not. Christmas has been getting cheesier since tree lights were invented—since some German dude put candles on a sawed-off Douglas fir. All Kitschmas does is add one more string of ornaments to a blue-flocked tree brimming with cheer.

It's a great read—really more of a glance since the pictures are what sell this little tome. Like the tree stand, anyone with a glint of irony in his or her flinty soul will get lost in Kitschmas once a year or so. The rest of the time, it'll sit on your shelf.

Unless you live somewhere west of New York—or east of Vegas. Then you'll wonder why Conway and Medilek didn't call you when they were researching their charming little book. This is your life.

MERRY KITSCHMAS: THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY HANDBOOK BY MICHAEL D. CONWAY AND PETER MEDILEK; CHRONICLE BOOKS. SOFTCOVER, 120 PAGES, $14.95.

 
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