Skipping Christmas is a short, delightful tale about a couple who decides to skip Christmas and go on a cruise instead. With lots of strained neighborly relationships, fake tans, and unsolicited “Free Frosty” yard signs, this story shows a satiric view of Christmas and the joys and ordeals of the holiday.
Luther and Nora Krank are skipping Christmas this year. With their daughter, Blair, off with the Peace Corps in Peru, Luther convinces Nora that they don’t need the shopping, the parties, the holiday cards, or the stress; instead of spending $6,100 on Christmas like they did last year, Luther and Nora are planning to go on a ten-day Caribbean cruise on Christmas day for half the cost. However, the Kranks find skipping Christmas to be increasingly difficult as their neighbors – shocked at the thought of not celebrating Christmas – start to ambush them with holiday cheer.
Grisham has created your typical American neighbors with Skipping Christmas: Luther is a tax accountant who is fed up with the idea of Christmas, and Nora feels obligated to put on a big Christmas dinner and have the decorations up, but is torn by Blair’s absence. They both try to reject everything Christmas-related, which is a very difficult task considering how involved they were in years past… but with the cruise as motivation, Luther and Nora become more tenacious about skipping Christmas, to the dismay of their neighbors. The Kranks’ neighbors are delightful characters who act like one big family, trying to win The Best Holiday Spirit Awards for their street and all that. So of course, the (aptly named) Kranks, much like the Grinch, are ruining everything about Christmas!
There is a slightly exaggerated quality to Skipping Christmas that makes this story satiric, and it was funny to me how the Kranks go to such great lengths to boycott the holiday and how people react when they hear about what the Kranks are doing. But maybe somewhere in North America, there ARE people that gung-ho about Christmas? The conflicts between the various characters resonated with me, because the routines and traditions that usually bring a sense of comradery in a neighborhood is slowly breaking into pieces in Skipping Christmas. Oh, and should I mention that there’s a big plot twist? It had me going, “Really? Really???” in disbelief, and definitely upped the anxiety and frustration that I already felt from all the existing conflicts.
Grisham really hits on both the goods and bads of Christmas with Skipping Christmas, and he had me nodding in agreement, laughing at the satire, and accepting resignedly that there are bad parts to Christmas in addition to the good. But Skipping Christmas also left me with the hope that the good outweighs the bad; I’d recommend this short read to anyone who’s getting into the holiday spirit or who thinks that Christmas is a sham, as a reminder to not go overboard this season with your like or dislike of the holiday. For me, Christmas is about spending time with my loved ones, and Skipping Christmas really brings that point home.
(By the way, this book has also been adapted to film, so maybe put Christmas with the Kranks on your to-watch list as an alternative or an addition to Skipping Christmas!)