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PUBLISHED: 3:20 PM on Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Get in the know with 'Weird Christmas'

Every Christmas, you do battle.

Armed with credit cards and cash, you march forth to skirmish with other shoppers at the stores. You slash through your gift list, looking to capture a "buy one, get one free."

Your enemy is the person who butts ahead of you in line.

You battle the clock, trying to pack in parties and baking, school programs, church programs, wrapping, cards and decorating.

Then, come January, you fight to pay for it all.

Now, then. How about something to smile about? While you're out doing your shopping, look for "Weird Christmas" by Joey Green, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber.

Christmas, you see, also has a strange - and funny - side.

Why do we do the things we do at Christmastime?

For instance, think about this: even the most protective parent invites a stranger to enter the house via the chimney every Christmas to take cookies and leave loot. When it's put like that, Santa sounds a whole lot different, doesn't he?

In this book, you'll meet the Cheap-Suit Santas, a rambunctious and rowdy group that started in San Francisco and now includes "chapters" all over the world. There are also Kiwi Santas, helicopter Santas, female Santas and a whole sleighful of jolly old elves to read about.

And then there are Santa's little helpers, like the folks in North Pole, Alaska (13 miles from Fairbanks) who try to deal with the deluge of letters addressed to Mr. Claus.

So about that tree you put up in your house... is it real or fake? Eighty-three percent of us put up a Christmas tree every year and we decorate it according to family tradition. Be aware when you bring that tree home - a University of Vermont study says a tree lashed to the top of an SUV creates 26 percent more aerodynamic drag which uses more gasoline.

In this book, you'll read about a landfill in Ohio that decorates the garbage with lights, and some folks in Florida, Texas, Brooklyn and Canada who take their house decorating very seriously. You can learn how to say "Merry Christmas" in many languages by reading this book.

You'll find out about Jewish contributions to this Christian holiday. You'll read about odd and unusual traditions, and some things that are not-so-cool about the Yule.

Yes, Virginia, "Weird Christmas" is an apt title. Author Joey Green mixed silly traditions with little-known facts, added true stories and created an afternoon's worth of irreverent Christmas fun.

This is not a book for the person who maintains a childlike wonder at the holiday and it's definitely not a book for young children, although an older teen who appreciates cynicism might get a kick out of it.

Be sure to pay attention to the illustrations inside and on the cover. Once I noticed the drawings by Lisa K. Weber, I liked this book even more.

If you're ready for something light and a little anti-sentimental, then ask to find "Weird Christmas" beneath your tree. It's a ho-ho-whole lot of fun.


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