“Politically Correct Holiday Stories” by James Finn Garner
Gasp! I said “Christmas.” I used the dreaded word — and don’t you know, there’s a war on Christmas that is threatening to destroy the beloved holiday?
Why am I so cranky, you might ask?
On the reference of a friend (whose taste is always impeccable, and I won’t hold this one against him) I recently read James Finn Garner’s “Politically Correct Holiday Stories.”
Rarely am I thrilled to be done reading a book.
I get that the premise of the book can be considered charming; Let’s take classic holiday stories from years ago and modernize them. Wahwah, we wind up with “‘Twas the Night before Solstice,” in which Santa arrives to bring presents to a Co-op and gets a lecture about consumerism, and “Frosty the Snowman,” in which Frosty – ready to protest environmental policies – melts due to the hole in the Ozone layer. If you’re wondering, Rudolph becomes a “Norma Raye” like figure, leading the reindeer in a strike unti their concessions are met, and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is about class divisions.
Fine, whatever. Not like these waters haven’t been tread before.
It’s really the “feminist” take on “The Nutcracker” that’s got my panties in a bunch. In it, to avoid pigeonholing children in gender roles, Clara is given the Nutcracker instead of the baby doll Uncle Drosselmeier had originally planned to give her, and winds up negotiating a peaceful resolution between the Nutcracker and the Seven-headed Mouse King. As a reward/to celebrate, the Nutcracker prince offers to take her off to the land of snowflakes and candy – you know, the part in the ballet where all the good dances come in. Clara, however, refuses for the following reasons:
“You see, we’ve been discussing just this sort of idea in our Storybook Womyn’s Study Group,” explained Clara. “We object that it’s always the young womyn who are forced to undertake those disruptive journeys. The obvious impication is that we are all docile, helpless, and easily manipuated, and that our backgrounds and identities are of lesser importance. And even you should be able to see how such a journey is symbolic of the violent abduction that occurs on the wedding night…”
I vented to my husband about this, and he asked when the book was written.
“1995,” I said, checking the book.
“….That’s practically the 50s,” he replied. Funny guy, that one.
Do we really still live in a day and age when that’s funny? Am I, as a woman, unreasonably getting peeved about a harmless take on a timeless classic?
Who knows? Anyway, I’m off to read the REAL version of “A Christmas Carol,” now – thanks. No thanks, Mr. Finn Garner – the schtick didn’t work for me.
That said, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Happy Winter to you, sir!