Happy Holidays from Jay Clark!

It’s official, Figs: the weather is getting frightful, the mistletoe has been hung, the lights are twinkling–the holidays are upon us! To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favorite authors to share holiday memories with us. Tune in all through December to get in the holiday spirit!

Jay Clark is the hilarious author of The Edumacation of Jay Baker, his debut novel about a slightly dorky high school freshman who’s in love with his best friend (but maybe another girl, too), watching his parents’ marriage go down the tubes, and trying desperately to beat out his arch nemesis in class president elections. The Edumacation of Jay Baker won’t hit shelves until the end of January, but you can get a taste of Jay’s signature humor below.

Laughing at Your Family’s Expense: The True Meaning of Christmas?

Most families think the meaning of Christmas has something to do with togetherness, and that’s why they’re so annually miserable–miserably trapped in an ongoing explosion of boring stories.  Anyone interested in hearing about Uncle Greg’s laser eye surgery? Aunt Marcy’s Christmas card backorder snafu? Cousin Jane’s not-so-jazzy account of her daughter’s trip to show-choir regionals? Snooze, snooze, and triple snooze.

My family uses Christmas the way it was meant to be used–as a bona fide opportunity to top one another, like the big bunch of unlikable Charlie and Charlene Toppers we are.

The game: White Elephant Gift Exchange Melee: Hot Mess Edition

The players: Any Clark or Clark-in-law whose bones won’t break if accidently/intentionally trampled. Step aside, old people and annoying children.

The terms: 1) Clark picks a number. 2) Clark opens his/her present in numbered order. 3) Clark either a) becomes slightly embarrassed by the gag gift that he/she has unleashed upon the living room or b) immediately falls in love with one of the “nice” prizes, forgetting it retails at or around $10. 4) Clark can either a) keep their present or b) trade it for someone else’s.  5) Clark has 30 seconds to trade. No immediate re-trades, silly. Anything else is fair game, including clotheslining Uncle Jeff, which has actually happened. Don’t even get me started on the fairness of the timekeeper, who’s been under protest for years.

Anyway, as the presents are opened one by one, the room becomes divided into two hate-filled camps.

Camp 1: The Targets. Most likely opened a Wal-Mart candle, some kind of Bath & Body Works anti-bac soap, or a crappy toolset. Comfortable in the knowledge that everyone is, in fact, jealous much, it’s like they don’t even realize karma is about to lay the smack down. Just take one look at our highly determined step-grandma, Penny, a no-holds-barred police officer who’s been through some kind of official police training and isn’t afraid to use it. See above line about Uncle Jeff getting clobbered.

Camp 2: The Leftovers. Saddled with such duds as a giant bag of prunes, a fart machine, or someone’s leftover senior pictures, they’re obsessed with trading it at any cost, including that of a human life. Recently retired Aunt Vicki’s life, perhaps, since she’s got a death-grip on the Starbucks gift card that someone was dumb enough to wrap up and give away. Or does she? It’s hard to tell because Aunt Jeannine, a svelte woman by anyone’s standards, has parked it right in the line of fire–move it or lose it, Aunt J, everyone knows you have the fart machine. You’re a non-factor!

In fact, Aunt Jeannine’s only hope of getting back into the game is if someone chokes under pressure and accidentally trades with her right as “Time!” is called. This happens more often than it should, especially when the gift-holder is wise enough to stretch forth their loser just when the trader is most disoriented. Always a crowd-pleasing moment.

And that’s basically the gist. Cackling together at a fellow family member’s expense is one of the best ways to forge a Christmas bond that will last at least a year. Until you get screwed by your fellow belly-laugher at next year’s exchange, then it’s on!

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