I’m not going to read Hank Stuever’s Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present, because I’m a classic Dickensian Scrooge (without the happy ending) and I hate Christmas—there, I said it. Then again, I’m exactly the kind of person who should read it. In his second book, the Washington Post Style section writer takes on the discrepancies between the simple, “down home” Christmas of yore—where the family sits together around the hearth, singing carols, and no one fights; does that happen anymore?—and what he calls the “mega-Christmas” of consumption that Dec. 25 has become. “It is our happiest day and our greatest disappointment all in one,” he writes in the prologue. In the end, this is not just a story about a holiday. It’s about values, consumerism, pop culture, family, God, and everything in between. It would certainly make a good gift—and, given this review copy sitting on my desk and my disdain for braving shopping malls during the seasonal crush, it just might.
STUEVER SPEAKS AT 5 P.M. AT POLITICS & PROSE, 5015 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919.