I've been trying to put off John Grisham's Skipping Christmas for when it's a lot "colder," in keeping with my quirk of conjuring the perfect atmosphere for my readings. The sweltering heat--the kind that turns my face into a giant oil field--made me want to have that Christmas feeling in June, though. And so...
With their daughter flying off to a Peace Corps stint in Peru, the Kranks are facing an empty Christmas. When Luther, a tax accountant, does a Scrooge and cranks out numbers from the Christmas just past, he is appalled to find that they spent $6,100 on, among others, an ugly ostrich skin wallet, unwanted presents and calendars and Christmas cards and Christmas cookies "that no one ate."
And on such materialistic premise, Luther convinces his wife to skip the holidays altogether. Which means no giant snowman on the roof and no fruitcake that gets passed around and ends up in the trash anyway. Instead they will go on a ten-day cruise starting on Christmas Day.
But the (obviously snooty) neighbors get wind of the plan, and skipping Christmas soon becomes a contrived plot that involves anonymous "Free Frosty" cards, the whole neighborhood singing Christmas carols and the press clicking away at the only undecorated house on Hemlock Street. The Kranks are also reduced to talking in whispers in their own home, which is downright crazy.
In feel-good fashion, the Christmas spirit eventually creeps in. Although to compare it with Dickens' A Christmas Carol is, well, humbug. After all, there is something off-putting about the way Christmas is sort of forced into the Kranks. And who crunches numbers when it comes to Christmas, anyway?
In all, it's a pleasant enough read, one you would normally read in transit or in terminals. Or to pass off the time on hot, humid days. Not really classic material, though, and in the long run, its claim to fame is the fact that it was written by John Grisham.