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The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

Oh, yarf. Yak. Ptooey.

If there’s one thing I hate*, it’s a cloyingly heartwarming Christmas story that bashes you about the head with its overstated moral. A modern fable about the true meaning of Christmas. Oh, harf.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m the first to agree that the holidays have become too commercial, and a few years ago I watched with something akin to bemused horror as a drugstore employee put plastic jack-o-lanterns and witch masks away into one box, then removed singing, dancing Santas and LED light-up reindeers from another. Yes, it’s important to remember that the important things are family, booze, friends, health, booze and cookies, more than your ting-tanglers, whizz-binglers, and iPods. But do we need to be nauseating and self-righteous about it?

If ever a publisher’s synopsis has made my stomach churn in nausea-induced loathing, it’s this one, from Threshold Editions, about Glenn Beck’s The Christmas Sweater.

*cue smarmy muzak*

When Eddie was twelve years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a bike. Although his life had gotten harder — and money tighter — since his father died and the family bakery closed…Eddie dreamed that somehow his mother would find a way to have his dream bike gleaming beside their modest Christmas tree that magical morning.

What he got from her instead was a sweater. “A stupid, handmade, ugly sweater” that young Eddie left in a crumpled ball in the corner of his room.

Scarred deeply by the realization that kids don’t always get what they want, and too young to understand that he already owned life’s most valuable treasures, that Christmas morning was the beginning of Eddie’s dark and painful journey on the road to manhood. It will take wrestling with himself, his faith, and his family — and the guidance of a mysterious neighbor named Russell — to help Eddie find his path through the storm clouds of life and finally see the real significance of that simple gift his mother had crafted by hand with love in her heart.

Ugh. Do the Culkins have any kids left after Macaulay, Rory and Kieran? If so, I think I have a role for him.

For the love of cheese. The kid is going to learn a lesson, the hard way. I smell a puppy limping bravely along with three legs, or a long-winded lesson from a previously-overlooked uncle with a twinkling eye (how DID he lose his thumb?!), or most likely a close call with the mother – an illness, perhaps – leaving the feverish child exhausted from crying, and sinking into a tormented, fitful sleep. In that sleep, he’ll dream of a savior, and see the error of his ways, and awake with a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation for his humble gift of a life, at which point everything will miraculously be okay because greedy Eddie has relinquished his short-sighted bicycle yearnings in favour of helping the needy. Oh, and then at the last minute, he’ll get that bike after all. Argh, barf, hurl.

I’ve seen the book all over the bestseller lists, so clearly it has its audience. But if it finds its way under my tree this Christmas, I’ll find a poverty-stricken mother of nine, and toss Glenn Beck’s The Christmas Sweater into the fireplace, so their fire might burn more warmly, more brightly, if only for a moment.

It’s the right thing to do, in the true spirit of the season.

God bless us, every one!

*there are many

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