4 Hilarious Christmas Stories

Ring in the Season with the Sound of Laughter

Sometimes during the holidays, you need a little comic relief. Whether you're looking for heart-warming tales or laugh-out-loud cynicism, the following stories are sure to brighten the season. 

Image courtesy of Steven Greenberg.

Every year, the National Review runs a beloved Christmas piece by Aloïse Buckley Heath (1918 - 1967), the sister of William F. Buckley, Jr., and the mother of ten children.

The narrative is a celebration of the glories of an imperfect Christmas. It tells the story of an attempt that Heath and her husband make to have a less materialistic, more spiritual Christmas. Heath writes:

"What I always thought he [her husband] meant was that it would be materialistic for Alison and Betsey and Jennifer and Timothy to get a Chatty Cathy apiece, but spiritual for them to share one."

Heath launches a plan to mimic the idealized traditions described in Around the Year with the Trapp Family (yes, that Trapp family, of Do-Re-Mi-Sound-of-Music fame). Needless to say, the experiment is doomed to failure, and Heath's breezy writing style makes you glad of it. In the end, as their Christkindl (think Secret Santa) project deteriorates into pettiness, one of the children proposes a solution:

"Every Sunday now, they each buy seven penny lollipops, and every night they slip a lollipop under their Christkindl’s pillow. Well, I know that doesn’t sound so terribly spiritual, but it’s better than what they used to do. What they used to do was steal each other’s lollipops." More »

Vintage Santa Claus postcard.
Image courtesy of Dave.

In penning "A Letter from Santa Claus" to his daughter, Susy, Mark Twain demonstrates both profound affection and his characteristic dry humor. "Santa" gives Susy detailed instructions about everything she must say and do when he stops by to clarify her Christmas order. A reader can't help thinking Twain must have enjoyed specifying a script for her that includes lines like, "Good-by, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much."

But Twain must have known his letter would find a wider audience, not least in his butler, George, who is the butt of many good-natured jokes in the letter. Susy is to require George to follow extensive rules, such as being blind-folded, walking on tip-toe, and not speaking. And she is twice instructed to inform him that he needs to follow these rules "else he will die someday" -- a joke clearly intended for adults. More »

Flexible Flyer sled leaning against tree.
Image courtesy of swanksalot.

From the opening line of Carlson's story -- "The last thing I do every Christmas Eve is go out in the yard and throw the horse manure onto the roof" -- the narrator's unabashed dedication to his family endears him to the reader. It's a joyful story, and by the end, you'll feel as giddy as a child swishing down a snowy slope on a Flexible Flyer.   More »

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"SantaLand Diaries" by David Sedaris

Elf ornament on Christmas tree.
Image courtesy of Barta IV.

It may be cynical, but David Sedaris's "SantaLand Diaries" is one of the funniest pieces of writing I've ever read, and it will forever be one of my favorite Christmas stories. If you're looking for a feel-good piece, skip this one. But if you're at the end of your rope with the holidays, this might be just the thing you need.

The story is a fictionalized account of the period Sedaris spent working as a Christmas elf at Macy's. "I am a thirty-three-year-old man," Sedaris writes, "applying for a job as an elf."

When he's hired, he's told "that it is an elf's lot to remain merry in the face of torment and adversity." The rest of the story, of course, details the inevitable torment and adversity and his utter inability to remain merry in the face of it.

After a few days, he changes his elf name from "Crumpet" to "Blisters."

And when the second customer in one day shouts, "I'm going to have you fired!" it's all he can do to stop himself from answering, "I'm going to have you killed."

You can listen for free to a version of the story that Sedaris read on NPRin 1992, his first big break.

Ho! Ho! Ha!

I hope these stories will help make your Christmas merry and bright. The holidays aren't quite complete without the tinkle of silver … laughter.