Remember those heart-warming Hallmark Christmas scenes? You know, the ones with the tall tree nicely trimmed, a variety of Christmas cookies frosted and sprinkled, Christmas presents neatly wrapped and stacked, and the extended family gathered closely before a roaring fireplace. I sat down to read Ann McCauley’s Pressure Cooker Christmas one week before Christmas in a family room sorely lacking in such Hallmark ambiance. I hoped this book would provide me with some insight, maybe some humor with which to approach my Christmas to-do list.
Marlene O’Malley is a working wife, mother, daughter, and grandmother. There is husband Bob who is a self-confessed curmudgeon. There are adult children: two daughters and a son and their respective mates and children, as well as a sprinkle of great grandparents. Each adds their own flavor of stress and complications. From a pending divorce to a wedding to addiction recovery to unforeseen accidents, Marlene maintains her cool under pressure. She strives to maintain a schedule that will enable her to celebrate the holiday with family the traditions that make it so special. It’s a juggling act we all try to sustain, but Marlene offers an example of how to do so with humor. It’s not the funny ha-ha kind, but there’s plenty of good humor that supports loved ones and friends with flexibility, grace and dependability.
This is a feel-good book and highly recommended as a realistic window on a contemporary woman trying to do it all.