In Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris, the author brings a fresh and humorous new perspective on holiday stories and winter books with his disorganized mix of non-fiction, dark and often exaggerated pieces. From hilarious childhood memories or his celebrated Santaland diaries in which David’s recounts his job experience as a 33-year old Christmas elf, to The Cow and the Turkey, a fable about greed and revenge starring barnyard animals, Sedaris’ collection of stories definitely offers readers a surprising variety that keeps them on their toes…

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I said that Santa no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you’re bad he comes to your house and steals things. I told Riley that … Santa was going to take away his TV and all his electrical appliances and leave him in the dark. … You’re going to wish you never heard the name Santa. – SantaLand Diaries

Holidays on Ice book
Holidays on Ice under the tree

Holidays on Ice Summary

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris is a collection of fiction and non-fiction stories, musings, anecdotes and memories about the holidays or winter in general;

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  • SantaLand Diaries: David’s temporary job as a 33-year old shopping center elf.
  • Season’s greetings to Our Friends and Family!!! : A newsletter about a family adopting Khe Sahn, a Vietnamese prostitute who doesn’t speaks English.
  • Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol: a review of children’s play.
  • Based upon a true story: The media begs the church for a poor woman’s story in which she saved her son with a homemade kidney transplant in a barn, and his ironic death.
  • Christmas Means Giving: the tale of two families competing to be the biggest donors.
  • Dinah the Christmas Whore: a non-fiction based on David’s sister’s secret double life.
  • Jesus Shaves: A Parisianclass explaining Easter to Moroccan woman.
  • Us and them: Childhood memory of TV-less neighbours and thoughts on normality.
  • Let is snow: a true-story of a snowstorm and David’s mothers’ sanity.
  • Six to Eight Black Men: Sedaris’ musings of a traditional Dutch Christmas story.
  • The Monster Mash: David’s recollection of adolescence and his fascination with corpses.
  • The Cow and the Turkey: a fable starring barnyard animals.
Holidays on Ice
Holidays on Ice under the tree

Fiction or Non-fiction? A review

The collection of holiday stories approach by Dave Sedaris was intriguing, captivating and often entertaining. While I was expecting traditional comedy, most of the stories or tales were actually surprisingly disturbing and morbid. Being a fan of dark humor, I must admit I did chuckle while reading a few of the shocking passages, but others, as in Season’s greetings to Our Friends and Family, left me feeling uneasy and perturbed.

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The autopsy later revealed that Don had also been subjected to a wash cycle – hot wash, cold rinse. He died long before the spin cycle, which is, I suppose, the only blessing to be had in this entire ugly episode.

David Sedaris’ non-fiction was more in line with my expectations and probably that of most readers perusing works by comedy writers. SantaLand diaries, Sedaris’ most famous true story, made me laugh out loud, and was by far my favorite. On the other hand, the fictitious Jesus shaves, left me unmoved, barely remembering the point of the story. Even though Sedaris’ non-fiction was more comical, the tale Christmas means Giving and the insane improbability of two neighbouring families having a donation war (including less essential organs) was hysterically funny.

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Final Thoughts

In Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice, the disorganization and randomness of the stories was often confusing to follow and even tiring at times. Since several of the pieces were previously published, I judge this book could have been postponed until Sedaris came up with a complete new set of stories.

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  • Variety of styles
  • Humorous
  • Original concept


  • Inconsistent entertainment
  • Disorganized
7 /10

Final Verdict

Although some stories were hits, others were a complete miss, and the inconsistency of the humour, style and topic was disappointing.