The holidays are finally upon us! But is that always a good thing? As perfect as they are in theory, the holidays can be a recipe for disaster. Hectic travel schedules, forced quality time with the family and long, drawn-out meals can bring more pain than joy before the New Year. But no one really talks about these less-than-perfect holiday experiences or do they? In The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales, writers from Neal Pollack to Marian Keyes to Ann Patchett tell their tales of holiday woe. Comical, spot-on, and above all, reassuring, these stories are sure to make you thankful to have your own wacky family and strange holiday traditions. Cynthia Kaplan describes the holiday horror of hitting a deer (or a reindeer, as her young son presumes) in Donner is Dead, while Mike Albo shares his tale of a romantic Parisian holiday with his boyfriend . . . and his boyfriend's boyfriend in Christmas and Paris. Neal Pollack delights in baking his first Smithfield ham (despite being Jewish) with his very Southern (and very Christian) in-laws in The Jew Who Cooked Ham for Christmas and Stanley Bing chronicles the unexpected joy in spending the holidays alone in 'Twas the Bite Before Christmas. The stories are as different and funny as their authors, and the collection is a real holiday treat.

Abby Plesser lives and works in New York City. She can't wait to go home for the holidays.

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