Skipping Christmas

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Luther had persuaded his wife to do without Christmas that year. Their only daughter was away in the Peace Corps, so he and Nora would take a Caribbean cruise. An accountant, Luther calculated that the cruise would cost less than what they usually spent during the season. Why bother sending cards to people you hardly knew just because you knew they would do the same to you? Why elbow through malls buying presents that people didn't want? Why host the big Christmas Eve bash he had come to dread just because his guests had come to expect invitations? Most of all, why drag the big, plastic Frosty the Snowman down from the attic and install him on the roof just because Luther did it every year and every other house on the block would have one?

Though the Kranks didn't tell their daughter about these plans, the decision confused acquaintances and caused anguish in the neighborhood. Luther remained steadfast. But Nora almost succumbed a number of times. Temptation came in the form of Boy Scouts, expecting her--as in previous years--to buy one of their fir trees. It came disguised as firemen at the door selling holiday fruitcakes and policemen selling calendars. Luther sent everyone away, explaining that the Kranks weren't doing Christmas that year.

Then--despite the tans Luther and the more reluctant Nora had carefully acquired, despite the dieting, and especially despite the fact that Luther had elected not to purchase trip-cancellation...

(The entire section is 409 words.)