The Hogfather [holidays]

By: N8 · December 11, 2008

Since the last time I got on my virtual soapbox to unabashedly shill for Terry Pratchett and the realism of the fantastic in all forms, I have probably covered another ten of his novels. I would read one, read the first quarter of another book, decide that one can wait, then start the next Terry Pratchett one. For many of them, I should say that I listen, because Nigel Planer‘s telling is now as much a part of the series for as Terry Pratchett’s writing. Earlier narrators did one book and were scrapped, and Nigel became Sean Connery’s James Bond in the world of Terry Pratchett audiobook narration.

Although I’ve been frolicking through these novels in order — a tact I’ve tried and abandoned in favor of cherry-picking for other authors — I hit The Hogfather in the first week of December, that magic time when the Thanksgiving coma begins to subside and you realize you might be able to slack off at work until the Holidays.

There are tons of things I love about the holidays (fires in the fireplace, seeing friends and family, getting and giving gifts, watching Rudolph in claymation, not being at school or at work, sleeping late, eating a ton of junk and good food, etc.) as well as many things that I don’t like (the travel itself, having to go to the mall for the things that I didn’t remember to buy on Amazon in time, my credit card balance, all the crappy television specials my other family members like, tree sap in my hair, some of the in-your-face Christianity that bubbles up, and being told to be nice to my brother “because it’s Christmas!”).

Despite my ardent secularism, Christmas is a great time of year for me, but what gets me into the “holiday spirit” isn’t religious or the incredibly saccharin stuff that tries to ignore all the downsides of the modern consumer-drive holiday. Here, I mean the stuff that treats Christmas as a mystical experience where happiness reigns utterly and supreme. That doesn’t resonate with me because it’s not been my experience that Christmas means that the normal rules of the road as suspended. For example, if you stub your toe on Christmas morning, it still hurts, but say “Shit!” and people will say to you “Shh, it’s CHRISTMAS!”

What does work for me around the holidays is the cultural fare that depicts the good and the bad together and thereby captures and redeems the whole holiday. I think that’s what Terry Pratchett has done swimmingly with The Hogfather, a story that slurps up the essential goodness and badness of Christmas (and childhood) and renders the holiday incredibly realistically by transposing it into a fantasy world. In the transposition of Christmas into Hogswatch, it is possible to better understand what I have been trying to say about the ability of fantasy to bring forth a essential reality.

In this case, it’s revealing, it’s hilarious (despite the somber-seeming look of Death dressed The Hogfather), and it’s definitely put me into the holiday frame of mind. I can’t wait to get my hands on the mini-series/movie by the same name that was based on Pratchett’s book and released in the UK in 2006, since this is the first of Pratchett’s books to be adapted, though it’s already known not to have been the last.

[The holiday spirit really struck me when I decided that I could give the actual book this year to some people and realized it was only $8 new on Amazon — I have to say, that perked me up a bit. Ho ho ho.]


3 Responses to “The Hogfather [holidays]”
  1. Y says:

    This holiday post is perfect except for one thing – No Scrooged reference!! I expect that to be rectified.

  2. N8 says:

    Scrooged is clearly worth a mention around the holidays. I think I might have to post a short list of off-center holiday media that I indulge in every year. Scrooged will certainly be on that list.

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