A Search for America's Christmas Present
By Hank Stuever
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780547134659, 352pp.)
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
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A heartfelt, hilarious look at the evolution of a half-trillion-dollar American holiday
Hank Stuever turns his unerring eye for the idiosyncrasies of modern life to Frisco, Texas, a suburb at once all-American and completely itself, to tell the story of the nation’s most over-the-top celebration: Christmas. Stuever starts the narrative as so many start the Christmas season: standing in line with the people waiting to purchase flat-screen TVs on Black Friday. From there he follows three of Frisco's true holiday believers as they navigate through the Nativity and all its attendant crises. Tammie Parnell, an eternally optimistic suburban mom, is the proprietor of "Two Elves with a Twist," a company that decorates other people's big houses for Christmas. Jeff and Bridgette Trykoski own that house every town has: the one with the visible-from-space, jaw-dropping Christmas lights. And single mother Carol Cavazos just hopes that the life-affirming moments of Christmas might overcome the struggles of the rest of the year. Stuever's portraits of the happy, mega-churchy, shop-until-you-drop community in Tinsel are revealing and riotously funny, showing how our ancient rituals of celebration have survived—and succumbed to—the test of time.
HANK STUEVER is an award-winning pop-culture writer for the Washington Post's style section. He is the author of Off Ramp, an essay collection, and has appeared on Today, The View, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and National Public Radio.
Hank Stuever wanted to write about Christmas in America with a capital "A." Tinsel is the story of his journey to Frisco, Texas, where the lights are brighter, the Christmas trees are taller, and the reindeer are faster. More at NPR.org
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