Spending The Holidays With People I Want To Punch In The Throat is the second collection of hilarious essays from author Jen Mann. In her first book, People I Want To Punch In The Throat, she laid waste to suburban scourges and Stepford wives. This time she’s taking on the pumpkin-spice latte-drinking, Black Friday shopping, Elf posing, holiday merrymakers by blending memories from her own ghosts of Christmases past with her usual brand of snarky observational humor.
The first thing I do whenever I pick up a new book is judge it by the cover. (I know, I’ve heard you’re not supposed to do that!) I received an advanced copy of Mann’s new book from the publisher in exchange for writing an honest review, and when I finally looked at the sad, broken gingerbread man residing beside her catchy subtitle (Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges) I began to worry.
I love Christmas. My husband has to physically restrain me every year from decorating our house before Thanksgiving and I will cling to our lifeless Christmas tree until Valentine’s Day, or when the last brown needle falls to the floor, whichever comes first. I listen to Christmas music on repeat in my car (who cares if there are really only 15 good Christmas songs?), string twinkle lights from every surface in my home, put Santa hats on the dogs, dress my entire family in matching Christmas jammies, and force my poor, confused British husband to watch A Christmas Story exactly 243 times every year.
How could I possibly offer an objective opinion on this book? What if it was about me?
My fears turned out to be unwarranted as Mann’s book opens with some hilarious stories about her some-what disastrous memories of her childhood Christmases. Tantrums are thrown, surprises are ruined, and gifts are abandoned or left unfinished. Yet underneath these laugh-out-loud tales of Christmas chaos was a story about a family who loved Christmas so much they went to ridiculous lengths to make it as perfect as possible. Ah, perhaps the author wouldn’t want to punch me in the throat after all.
Next Mann offers a glimpse into her current Christmas traditions as she grew up, left her parents’ house and started a family of her own. Despite the fact that as a young adult she had to run out one year on Christmas Eve to buy a plastic Christmas tree to please her mother who came to visit, forgets to move her Elf on the Shelf almost every night, and occupies the only “dark house” on a Street of Lights, her sarcasm is laced with a clear love for the holiday and her family traditions.
She hooked me with the story about discovering that her husband-to-be had never seen the movie A Christmas Story until the day she was supposed to have Christmas dinner with his parents at a Chinese Restaurant. I’ve have spent many holidays trying to explain to housefuls of Europeans why this movie is a classic, and why it simply must be enjoyed ad nauseam every year. Despite my enthusiastic chortling in the background, my husband, too, considered having me committed after viewing it for the third time in a row on Christmas day.
Mixed with her honest stories about her own Christmas traditions, are some of Mann’s signature snarky Punch Lists. My favorite was her reaction to the 101 Fun Ideas To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf. Despite my own enthusiasm for all things Yule, even I laughed out loud at the idea of placing a spare toilet on your front lawn for the sole purpose of posing a wooden elf. We all have our limits.
And for those of you who aren’t big on the Christmas holiday, Mann saves the best for last for you with a series of hilarious anecdotes about other occasions she’s celebrated in the past, like the time she invited 100 clients to her house to celebrate Chinese New Year and why she will NEVER do that again. I’ll give you a hint, it involves a mystery stain on her duvet and a surprise behind a potted plant. Now I’m wondering what I have to do to get invited to a Throat Punch party.
So if you’re a holiday humbugger or a Christmas cheer-magnet, there is something to love about Jen Mann’s new book, Spending The Holidays With People I Want To Punch In The Throat. It’s wit meets nostalgia meets National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and it would make a fabulous gift for friends, family, and suburban scourges alike this holiday season.
Pick up your copy of the book here!