‘Falalalalalalala’ by Nikki Giovanni

Giovanni, Nikki 1994

Falalalalalalalala by Nikki Giovanni, 1994

The magic trick:

Keeping a light, comical tone while delivering a Christmas message

The ideas in this story aren’t particularly original. The corporate crush of modern Christmas is exhausting. Time to strip it back to the essentials. We’ve heard that before, and, frankly, the message can get a little tiresome in its preachy-ness.

Fortunately, Giovanni strikes the perfect tone. She makes the story personal. She never seems to be telling the reader what you should do. She’s only telling you about her experiences. The real key, though, is humor. Pretty much anything can go down easy if it’s done with humor. I don’t think of Nikki Giovanni as being funny. Poet. Essayist. Activist. Comedian? It’s surprising but she’s pretty funny here, riffing on the domesticated dog’s plight of watching “Wheel Of Fortune” with its owner. The whole thing is light and funny while still delivering that time-tested Christmas message. And that’s quite a trick on Giovanni’s part.

The selection:

Last year we overdosed. Everybody got everybody everything that was ever mentioned. Obscene is not too strong a word. If one more gift had come into the house, we would have needed to reinforce the floor. Did we think the world was coming to an end? Did we foresee some tragedy? I don’t know, but December 26, over coffee and the lightest dollar pancakes a sister ever made, we had a discussion. Next year we would make choices. We will have a limit on how much we can spend. Each person can only cook one dish. Is this going to be rough? You bet, because now we all have to think; now we will have to make choices.

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