“This Christmas Try a Little Fruitcake”–the spirit of the season

Greenwood, David Valdez. “This Christmas, Try a Little Fruitcake”, De Capo Press, 2007.

The Spirit of the Season

Amos Lassen

Remember when? These two words say succinctly and precisely what “This Christmas, Try a Little Fruitcake” is all about. The book is a collection of charming and comical little stories that brim with the spirit of the holiday season. David Valdes Greenwood who gave us “Homo Domesticus” captures with elfin charm the sometimes outrageous unpredictability of family celebrations in a series of delightful and heart warming little stores. He gives us twelve tales, one for each of the twelve days of Christmas and they are all set against the background of the rural countryside of Maine.

Holidays can be compared to fruitcake—they are both mixed blessings. They each offer unexpected chaos and actual merriment. It is so easy to identify with the characters as all of us have relatives like the ones we read about in Valdes Greenwood’s stories.  Remember the time you tormented Santa Claus or the time you went to the Christmas pageant when the wise men were not speaking to each other because of some petty argument? There is a Scrooge in every family (I resemble that remark) and then there are the homemade decorations that while may not be beautiful hold a prominent place in the home because the children made them.

Valdes Greenwood looks at Christmas through the eyes of a child and makes the holiday come alive. He reminds us of the sappy TV spectaculars and getting together to decorate the tree and then he lets us remember how ewe sat at the kids’ table which was not exactly placed too close to the grownups.

It is the humor and the nostalgia of the book that makes it special but at the heart of the stories is David who is loveable and precocious at the same time. There is also a very strong moral here and that is that Christmas spirit is not what is wrapped under the tree or the birth of Jesus but the beauty of the season which gives us memories to last a lifetime.

Even as a non-Christian, I could identify with much of the book. I may not have Christmas but I have the season and it is that special time of year that all of us cherish so dearly.

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