If the thought of the fast-arriving, anxiety-inducing holidays is making you want to throw a Xanax into your pumpkin-spice latte, author and blogger Jen Mann has your back.
In her new book, “Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges,” Mann tells a stocking full of funny stories about how easily the holidays can be spoiled, regardless of good intentions and how many trees you decorate or cookies you bake.
While many of the essays focus on Christmas– from Mann’s childhood through the present– she pokes fun at other holidays and our need to keep up with traditions and with the Joneses.
Her mother starts decorating for Christmas as soon as the lights go out on Halloween and has no less than 12 themed trees, 102 nativity scenes, and 150 Santa figures taking over her house.
That’s quite a precedent.
It seems everyone in Mann’s world is just one bad gift, one lost tradition, or one burned cookie away from ruining Christmas. She builds suspense in each harrowing tale of missteps, while commenting on the anxiety the holidays create, especially for moms trying to hold everything together and create the magic of the season.
Two essays — one on an overheard conversation between Overachieving Moms preparing for the holidays and another on humblebrag Christmas letters — give Mann a chance to air her grievances about all the irritating people who tout perfection.
Mann keeps it real in her own witty, self-deprecating letter, which heralds broken bones, her young son’s propensity for nudity and outrageous prices at Disney World.
By poking fun at the insanity of Martha Stewart-worshipping moms, and the cultural pressure to acquire expensive stuff, Mann provides relief — and a voice — for those who feel they can never compete.
Mann is a great writer who perpetually portrays herself as the underdog, but is really a heroine and her blog a refuge for moms just trying to keep it together. The best part is that the book is less than 200 pages and a quick read that will make you giggle. You may even recognize some people you know.
Are you stressed yet about the holidays? Tell me in the comments.