‘The Best Christmas Ever’ by James Patrick Kelly

Kelly, James Patrick 2004

The Best Christmas Ever by James Patrick Kelly, 2004

The magic trick:

Filling the story with pop-culture references

Ugh. This story exhausted me. Perhaps it was the mood I brought to the reading. Perhaps I just don’t like science fiction. Or maybe – placing the blame on Mr. Kelly and away from me – there is something a little bit too smug about this story. I’m not sure.

Anyway, I did appreciate the way that the standard American pop culture Christmas experience was subverted. So that’s kind of fun, right? The story is a goldmine of 20th century pop-culture references – from fast food to movies. And that’s quite a trick on Kelly’s part.

(Sorry, I just can’t work up a whole ton of enthusiasm for this one. I am surprised it earned so much attention and attention ((it was nominated for a 2005 Hugo Award)).)

The selection:

“Cookies, Bertie,” said Aunty Em. “Fresh from the oven, oven fresh.” She set the plate down on the end table next to the Waterford lead crystal vase filled with silk daffodils.

“Not hungry,” he said. On the mint-condition 34-inch Sony Hi-Scan television Ronald McDonald was dancing with some kids.

Aunty Em stepped in front of the screen, blocking his view. “Have you decided what you want for Christmas, dear?”

“It isn’t Christmas.” He waved her away from the set, but she didn’t budge. He did succeed in disturbing the cat, which stood, arched its back, and then dropped to the floor.

“No, of course it isn’t.” She laughed. “Christmas isn’t until next week.”



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