Writers On How to Get Through the Holidays

The holidays, for all of their purported joys and festivities, are often a mixed bag. While many stand firmly behind the belief that nothing can top this time of year (the booze! the Christmas bounty!), for some, the threat of family feuds and regrettable under-the mistletoe moments can inspire the immediate onset of the seasonal sweats. Turns out literary legends and critics alike share with us this wide and varied range of emotions that winter brings. Regardless of your personal opinions on all that December brings, you're bound to sympathize with some of these words from notable writers — on merriment, melancholy and just making it through the holidays.

For those of whom Christmas is all about the loot:

"To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year." —E.B. White, The Second Tree from the Corner
"My parents always said that knowledge was the best gift they could give me, probably because they were too cheap to buy me Christmas or birthday presents" —Jarod Kintz

Thoughts on the season's shopping list:

"As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same." —Donald E. Westlake
"Consider Christmas — could Satan in his most malignant mood have devised a worse combination of graft plus bunkum than the system whereby several hundred million people get a billion or so gifts for which they have no use, and some thousands of shop clerks die of exhaustion while selling them, and every other child in the Western world is made ill from overeating — all in the name of the lowly Jesus?" —Upton Sinclair
"Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer.... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?" —Bill Watterson
“Everyone wants a Christmas tree. If you had a Christmas tree Santa would bring you stuff! Like hair curlers and slut shoes.” —Janet Evanovich, Visions of Sugar Plum
“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more...” —Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

For the Holiday hopeful in you believing that, despite the inevitable chaos, this year will be a little bit better than the last:

"I do like Christmas on the whole... In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill. But it is clumsier every year." —E.M. Forster
“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” —Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

If you tend to suffer the Boxing Day blues, perhaps you'll feel better sharing your pain with Miss Plath et al. (but you'll probably just feel worse):

"I felt overstuffed and dull and disappointed, the way I always do the day after Christmas, as if whatever it was the pine boughs and the candles and the silver and gilt-ribboned presents and the birch-log fires and the Christmas turkey and the carols at the piano promised never came to pass." —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
“Christmas it seems to me is a necessary festival; we require a season when we can regret all the flaws in our human relationships: it is the feast of failure, sad but consoling.” —Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt
"Isn't Christmas a moral and aesthetic nightmare whether or not the days are prosperous?” —Christopher Hitchens

Sometimes, Christmas lives up to the merriment it promises:

"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations." —Oscar Wilde

If you're worried about how the littl'uns will fare:

"Hey, great idea: if you have kids, give your partner reading vouchers next Christmas. Each voucher entitles the bearer to two hours' reading time *while the kids are awake*. It might look like a cheapskate present, but parents will appreciate that it costs more in real terms than a Lamborghini." —Nick Hornby, The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man's Struggle With the Monthly Tide of the Books He's Bought and the Books He's Been Meaning to Read

And, finally, some advice we can all get behind:

"Do give books — religious or otherwise — for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." —Lenore Hershey

Image: anneh632/flickr