Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays by Jill Smokler

As of this writing, there are only 73 days until Christmas. 73 days! I can hardly believe that, but it seems to arrive more quickly every year so I suppose I had better get ready. I've had Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays by Jill Smokler for over a year now, but I didn't have time to read it before the holidays last year and I wanted to save it until it felt a little more relevant...and until it felt a little cooler outside. This book is a collection of essays compiled by Jill Smokler, creator of Scary Mommy, a parenting blog followed by millions of parents that expresses in no uncertain terms that parenting doesn't have to be perfect. Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays takes us along with Jill and a few of her friends as we commiserate about all those little things that threaten to suck the fun out of the holiday season.

When I first started the book, I thought that it seemed like it might be a little too cynical for me. Sometimes our kids annoy us. That is just a fact of parenting, but some people can, at times, take that a bit far. This was the sentence that made me worry:

Getting through the holidays is no longer a matter of joy and celebration; it's a survival of the fittest.

I'm all for laughing at the way our kids make us crazy just to keep from crying, but I feared this was not going to be the book for me. But then I kept reading...

The first essay in the book is entitled Thanksgiving Etiquette Manifesto, by Leslie Marinelli. It begins with a recital of all the way she spends weeks "planning and preparing for the most highly anticipated meal of the year, only to have my Rockwellian dreams shattered in a matter of seconds by the arrival of my extended family." The essay goes on to provide a list of requirements for attending Thanksgiving Dinner. She knows that it will either make the day better, or people will get offended and not come. She is perfectly okay with either outcome.

This book is filled with hilarious essays to which we can all relate. From forgetting to thaw the Thanksgiving Turkey to a funny Dysfunctional Family Drinking Game; from hoping the kids will figure out that Santa is not real (I'm so on board with this!) to the torture that is the holiday card photo session. This book is also filled with great recipes that somehow still manage to be funny. And finally, there is also a great gift list for those parents you hate (glitter art kits and musical instruments).

One thing that I thought was absolutely wonderful about this book was something I found in the introduction. After years of hosting a very popular blog, Jill Smokler yearned for a way to help some of her readers, and others, who were in need. After a very short four day fundraising effort, she had raised $18,000 that would be used to purchase nearly four hundred Thanksgiving dinners for families in need. Suddenly, The Thanksgiving Project was born. It is now an official 501(c)(3) charity that has helped over four thousand families celebrate a holiday they otherwise couldn't have. This is an inspiring use of one's popularity.

This book was very funny and a very entertaining read. You really should read it and now is a perfect time. Not only is the holiday season upon us, but right now you can purchase the Kindle version for only 99 cents! You canNOT beat that!

I'll just leave you with these parting words:

Whether you are at the adults' table or the infamous kids' table, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. May you find the joy in the holiday no matter where you sit.

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