Roundup: Blue Christmas feels

Today (Saturday, Dec. 15) at 8 p.m., come see me on the holiday-themed lineup of Fallen Angel storytellers at DMen Tap (2849 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago)!

I’m excited to be included on this awesome showcase. I’ll be performing a story about my leading role in the third grade school Christmas play. AKA my glory days… that ended in bittersweet disaster.

In honor of tonight’s show, here are three of my favorite well-told sad holiday stories. Because let’s be honest, this time of year can be kind of a bummer sometimes, and witnessing other people’s grief can often help you feel not so alone in yours, you know what I mean?

Bill Burr and the time his dad got him a doll for Christmas


This is the story that made me fall in love with Bill Burr (though his brutal bit about lady brunchers and craft fair shopping certainly helped). It reveals the hurt kid inside the seething comedian, and I love that Bill, someone who brilliantly wields comedy as a defense, let us see and experience that with him. It was filmed at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in February 2003.

Bonus: In the veterans parade episode of the new “F is For Family” season, Frank (the dad) yells at Bill (the boy) that if he doesn’t shut up, he’s getting a doll for Christmas. So, thanks for that little Easter egg too, Bill.

Judy Garland’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Fun fact: The secret ingredient to good eggnog is salt from your tears! Judy’s voice on this is sure to melt them out.

Jo Ann Beard’s essay “Waiting” from “The Boys of My Youth”

I love this book so much, and I think you/everyone should read all of it. But her essay titled “Waiting” is particularly heart-warming/heart-wrenching right now. It’s about her mother passing away from cancer around Christmastime. Here’s an excerpt, seen from her mom’s hospital bed as carolers circle round to sing (Linda is Jo Ann’s sister):


“Linda hesitates and then opens the door, gestures for them to step in. We move to the head of the bed and stand like cops with our arms folded, trying to smile. They finish one song and all look expectantly at the lady with the vibrato. She says, Three, and they begin to sing ‘White Christmas.’ This is our mother’s favorite, she used to put Bing Crosby on the turntable when we all sat down for Christmas Eve dinner. It was part of the feast, like the white candles, the clean linen tablecloth, the gleaming china. As she passed the first bowl and our father stood to carve they would sing it together, one at each end of the table, softly serenading their children. Our father, in fact, had a wonderful strong baritone just like someone in the crowd of carolers. Suddenly regret is swelling in the room like the voices of the choir. As she lies in the bed, she weeps, for Bing, for the melting, shimmering candles, the filigree on the holiday tablecloth. She is an unwilling astronaut, bumping against the thick glass of the ship, her line tangling lazily in zero gravity, face mask fogged with fear. My sister reaches across, over the bed, and we both embrace the mother, holding her on earth, pulling her onto the ship, breathing our oxygen into her line. Ten hours later she is dead.”

Jo Ann Beard, excerpt from her essay “waiting” in “The Boys of my youth”

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