Origins of a Novel & a Holiday Ham

At a book signing for my book, “All I Want for Christmas” at the tail end of 2019 (back when we could gather together in public without dying), a man asked, “Why did you write a Christmas book?”

It wasn’t a question I was prepared to answer. I bet no one ever asked Stephen King, “Why’d you write this?”

I answered, “Hallmark.” My book would make a terrific movie, but that’s not why I wrote it.

I have a complicated relationship with Christmas. It’s a love/hate thing. In most Christmas-themed books, the hero finds the spirit of the season and/or saves their tiny town or their Tiny Tim. Everyone from Ebenezer Scrooge to Candace Cameron Bure. My book is about the little things that go wrong. The frustrations of the holiday.

Anyone who has ever untangled a jumble of tree lights knows that Christmas isn’t all fun and games. There are over-crowed stores, awful office parties and disastrous dinners.

My nerves jingle jangle more than the bells of St. Mary’s, but from the frustration, comes the comedy.

The stuff that happens to Kate – my protagonist – is stuff that has happened to me. The only difference is…she gets the hot dude at the end of the book.

I’m still waiting on my hot dude.

I took all of my frustrations and holiday mishaps and wove them together into a story. I even vented about, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s always bothered me that Rudy was bullied until he was useful. Most of the LGBTQ kids know what it’s like not to be invited to the reindeer games because you’re “different”. It sucks.

P.S. Santa couldn’t just get the elves make some LED headlights for the sleigh? Don’t even get me started on the fog that enveloped the world! That’s some supervillain level stuff.

My favorite part of my book, “All I Want for Christmas” is when Kate almost gets in a fist fight over a parking space in the mall, because that  happened to me in the parking lot of Honey Baked Ham.

Here’s the true story:

I was picking up a pre-ordered ham on Christmas Eve. Because the store was close to the mall, the traffic was nuts. I got to the parking lot and circled around looking for a spot, like a vulture flying over the dessert hoping to find a malnourished hiker. From around the corner, I noticed someone pull out. I zipped into the parking space just as this guy came around the other corner. As I got out of the car, the man got out of his vehicle and started yelling at me. He claimed I had taken his spot. He turned red shouting. Meanwhile, a young woman walked to her car and pulled out of the spot next to me.

I said, “Take this one!”

He responded, “That’s not the point!”

Finally, his wife convinced him to take the spot.

While he parked, I walked over to the store and stood in line.

The guy entered the line behind me. I could hear him back there muttering to his wife – and anyone who would listen – about how I swooped in and stole his space.

Then, the store manager came out and explained there was a shortage and that they may run out.

I panicked. I knew that if I got the last ham the man behind me was going to murder me. When it was finally my turn, I grabbed that ham, tucked it under my arm like it was a football and did a forty yard dash to my car. I wasn’t taking any chances. I screeched out of that parking spot.

If anyone claims that part of my book is far-fetched, you and I will know it’s true.

My book’s message is simple. Kate is hoping for a perfect Christmas, but she realizes that there is no such thing as the perfect Christmas. You have to laugh at the bad stuff and enjoy the good stuff. The holiday – any holiday – is what you make it.

Enjoy yours.

Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)