Love, Santa: A Different Kind of Christmas Story
Sharon Glassman. Warner Books, $12.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-446-67945-9
Proving that there's hope for the jaded to find joy during Christmas season madness, writer and performer Glassman recounts how she beat many years of holiday blues through a charity called Operation Santa Claus. Growing up in a suburban family she calls ""ethnically Jewish, pop culturally pro-Noel,"" Glassman envied her classmates' robust feasts, silvery tinsel and pretty carols. In comic, sharply observed detail, she relays her parents' mangling of traditions and laments their spiritual misdirection, ""a serious case of Robert Frost meets Dante gone wrong."" Attempting to make up for her family's lack of authentic ""Christmas spirit,"" Glassman tries to create the perfect aura of Christmas each holiday season. She's unsuccessful until she discovers Operation Santa Claus, which gives people the chance to answer a letter to Santa Claus-a request for a new coat or a kitten-that might otherwise end up in the dead letter office. With pleas from two kids and a mom, Glassman braves crowds, bizarre Brooklyn shops and exhausting lines at the post office to fulfill their Christmas needs (and to get in touch with a concept she'd forgotten about since Hebrew school: tzedaka, or anonymous charity), thereby coming to understand that the art of giving is the best tradition of all. While her cliched New Yorker-ish obsessions become tiresome, Glassman's amusing asides on her childhood, her commitment to Operation Santa Claus (she performs the book as a monologue in her one-woman show to promote the charity), and real letters from needy children to Santa make this a unique and genuine holiday tale.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2002