Tinsel: A Search for America's Christmas Present

by Hank Stuever | Other |
ISBN: 9780547134659 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Shemchin of Plano, Texas USA on 12/6/2009
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Shemchin from Plano, Texas USA on Sunday, December 06, 2009
Amazon Editorial Review:

In Tinsel, Hank Stuever searches out the most outlandish cultural excesses as well as the secret beauties of modern America s half-trillion-dollar Christmas holiday. When Stuever's narrative begins, he s standing in line with the people waiting to purchase flat-screen TVs at Best Buy on Black Friday. From there he follows Tammy Parnell, the proprietor of 'Two Elves with a Twist,' a company that decorates other people s houses for Christmas; Jeff and Bridgett Trykoski, owners of that one house every town has with Christmas decorations visible from space; and single mother Caroll Cavazos, who hopes that the life-affirming moments of Christmas might overcome the struggles of the rest of the year. Steuver's portraits are at once humane, heartfelt, revealing and very, very funny.

Journal Entry 2 by Shemchin at Winchester, Massachusetts USA on Monday, November 24, 2014

Released 5 yrs ago (11/20/2014 UTC) at Winchester, Massachusetts USA


Sent to my partner in the US/Canada Secret Santa Exchange set up by Miss Cyn - enjoy!

Journal Entry 3 by wingeponine38wing at Winchester, Massachusetts USA on Saturday, December 27, 2014
Thank you so much for this and all the other books included in my Secret Santa package! I'm thrilled! I do enjoy nonfiction, especially if it's about Christmas.

Journal Entry 4 by wingeponine38wing at Winchester, Massachusetts USA on Tuesday, January 23, 2018
This was a very interesting and- at times- fun(ny) read, mostly about the excesses of an American Christmas. I particularly enjoyed it for a couple of reasons.

First, my dad who – full disclosure - suffered from several episodes of debilitating depression during his lifetime, adored Christmas and would always be happiest during the holiday season. His childlike enthusiasm was contagious and I love the holiday largely due to him. We were not a family of excess: for financial reasons (and thrift) our Christmases were quite simple, much more so than that of my friends. So I always felt somewhat deprived in terms of material items, but it didn’t detract from my love of Christmas.

Then, for many years I was in a relationship with a man whose family – though also not well-off – were generous beyond my wildest dreams. For me it was an 180 degree turn from the Christmases of my childhood and in material terms I became very spoiled (and pretty out of touch with the true spirit of Christmas).

Now I’m back to enjoying simplicity. Presents are not important, especially as we age. Having close friends and relatives (my parents are long gone) to spend time with is what it’s all about: lunches, tree-lightings, or simply going out for coffee.

I do admit, I *love* extravagant light displays and will travel miles to see the best ones. That is one of the biggest joys of the season for me.

As to the book, I enjoyed Stuever’s writing style and humor, and it was fun to “meet” the people with whom he spent so much time – especially Tammie, the professional home decorator. Of course, reading about the crazy light displays was also one of my favorite parts. This book takes place during Christmas of 2006, not long before the real estate bubble broke and recession set in. Stuever does go back a couple of times and sees people losing their homes and others cutting back on holiday spending.
Reserved for booklady331's Nonfiction VBB.

Journal Entry 5 by wingeponine38wing at Winchester, Massachusetts USA on Monday, February 05, 2018

Released 2 yrs ago (2/5/2018 UTC) at Winchester, Massachusetts USA


On its way to elizardbreath via booklady331's Nonfiction VBB. Hope you enjoy it!

Released for Keep Them Moving Challenge hosted by booklady331.


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Journal Entry 6 by wingelizardbreathwing at Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Friday, February 09, 2018
Thanks so much! I think this will be a fun read!

Journal Entry 7 by wingelizardbreathwing at Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Tuesday, January 01, 2019
Goodness! I didn't realize I'd had this for almost a year! I saved it for Christmas time on purpose, thinking it would be a good, festive holiday read. Once I pulled it out, mid-month, to put it in the Christmas reading pile, I realized it might be a little too pessimistic and might squelch my holiday spirit. So, I read a couple chapters and put it away for later. A couple days after Christmas, I decided to finish it up since it was still "in season". I spent the last afternoon of 2018 finishing it up and must say that I'm not feeling as down as I thought I might be.

From my perspective as a Christian, Christmas is a stand-in celebration day for the actually unknown date of Christ's birth. We honor his day of death (which we actually do know) so it makes sense to honor his day of birth, as well. I don't harbor any grandiose ideas that Christmas started out as, or even should be, a specifically religious holiday---I know enough of its history to know that's not the case. Still, we can make anything and any day glorify God and that's what Christians have done with December 25th. That all said, it was very interesting to read Stuever's point of view regarding the things he experienced during Frisco's Christmas season, as he is a nonreligious gay liberal man and I am a conservative Christian woman who believes the gay lifestyle to be a sin. The surprising parts might not be what you'd expect them to be...

My favorite good part of this story was the experience the author had shopping for Angel Tree gifts. A lot of Christians think we're the only ones capable of generosity toward strangers. I've found that to be very untrue, and actually somewhat the opposite, more times than I'd like to think about. God made humans with compassionate hearts and many unbelievers still act in ways that very well represent the heart of God. Unfortunately, what he later finds out about how Angel Tree operates is really disappointing to both him and to me.

I think the saddest parts I read about his personal experiences were the times when it was obvious he was searching for something "magical" in Christmas---searching for what it's "supposed" to be. What he's searching for will only be found in Christ, cliche as that sounds. I imagine he would both chuckle and cringe at that statement.

The character of Tammie first made me laugh ("things not in nature..." Ha!) but later made me angry. The amount of presents she bought for her kids was disgusting. I can't even imagine---what a waste!

I researched Jeff and Bridgette (ok, fine, I Facebook-stalked them) and wasn't surprised to find out they'd divorced. That's sad but she was so mean and ungrateful to Jeff. At one point she says he'd be pretty much nothing without her. Looks like she's pretty much wrong there as he's still putting on awesome light shows for the city of Frisco and looks to be happily remarried to someone kind-looking. Yay for him.

A few other fun mentions were the Muskogee display, which my son just went to last week with his girlfriend's family, as well as the dancing light display featuring Mariah Carey's most famously annoying "All I Want For Christmas Is You". Our town has a display featuring that, as well.

Overall, I'm glad I read this. While I don't feel our family is in danger of this kind of excess, we can still get a little caught up in what the secular world wants Christmas to be. Christmas, like a relationship with the Lord, is personal and is whatever you make it to be. As for me and my house, I hope we'll always spend Christmas giving glory to God and making happy memories together.

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Journal Entry 9 by dabercro at Clinton, Utah USA on Monday, January 28, 2019
Arrived in the mail today. Thanks for sending.

Journal Entry 10 by dabercro at Clinton, Utah USA on Tuesday, December 24, 2019
I was interested in reading this book especially the parts about retail. I worked a retail job for 23 years (and Christmases). It could be a fun time of the year and also the most stressful with long hours and not always happy customers. This book covers the 2006 holiday season so much has changed since then. The biggest changes being stores opening on Thanksgiving and online shopping. From my early years in retail til my retirement over two years ago, the customer has changed and not for the better. I enjoyed my years of customer service but I am happy to be out of the craziness of the holiday shopping season. I could probably write my own book on my retail experiences.

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