Publication Date: October 26, 2010
In Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, Luther and Nora Krank typically do Christmas on overdrive but when their daughter, Blair, joins a Peace Corp trip in Peru for the holiday season they’re faced with a holiday season alone. Luther crunches the numbers and finds a vacation would save them a lot of money and stress. The Krank’s neighbors aren’t on board with their decision as it jeopardizes the block’s chances of winning the local decorating contest. With the Kranks fighting everyone, what happens when their daughter decides to come home for Christmas?
Fans of John Grisham may find Skipping Christmas somewhat different from his usual fare. It is an unashamedly fluffy comic holiday farce. There are few surprises and, while I’ve never been a Tim Allen fan, this one is better on the screen (there is a feeling that it was written expressly for a film) but formulaic comedy fun in any format. Luther is a stock curmudgeon while Nora is his hesitant conspirator who is willing to stand by her husband (provided they make their usual charity donations) but would truly like for everyone to be happy and get along.
Skipping Christmas reads as a throwaway contract book. It’s an easy fluffy read that one would not expect of an author usually finding himself in the legal thriller genre. Perhaps a nod to reader expectation is Vic Fromeyer (played by Dan Aykroyd in the film), the self-appointed leader of the neighborhood decorating committee and, in the book, near-psychotic in his pursuit of the Kranks. There is a decided lack of holiday spirit in his taunting, bullying and machinations that leads one to wonder what it would be like not to be a Christian and living on that street. On screen, there’s a rounding out of a person who just really cares about the holidays and winning while on page, he’s a character in need of control. In most other respects, the film is pretty faithful to its on-the-page counterpart. The Kranks upset everyone from the Boy Scouts to their neighbors and in order to pull everything together for Blair, they need the help of their friends. To compare Skipping Christmas to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation lacks justice in that the former doesn’t have the wacky comedy complexity of the latter. It is pure Christmas feel-good and likely not intended for anything else.
There are few real messages in Skipping Christmas. There’s the sense of community and compassion for others, but that’s all counterbalanced until the end of the book. In real life when Blair calls from the airport wanting to show her Peruvian fiance her special holiday traditions, the parents would say “We didn’t really plan for that, sweetie.” The extent to which they went and the pulling together for Blair is perhaps somewhat unrealistic especially given what we’ve already seen of the characters. The best thing about Skipping Christmas is that its fun, fast and not something one much gives a lot of thought. There are minor errors typical of any published work but nothing really to interrupt the flow of the piece.
At the end of this fairly short read, Skipping Christmas is a feel-good work. If you’re looking for something quick, pick it up today.
Read an excerpt and by Skipping Christmas by John Grisham on: