We want Christmas to be merry and bright, but sometimes the season can be challenging. Our two stories, presented by guest host Cynthia Nixon, do deliver good cheer in the end (and Nixon shares a few of her own holiday traditions). In Laurie Notaro’s “O Holy Night, or The Year I Ruined Christmas” there’s a hideous Christmas tree, and a demanding parent with a long memory. The hilarious tale is read by Kirsten Vangsness. In Jeanette Winterson’s luminous “Spirit of Christmas” a married couple set off for their holiday with frayed tempers and too much stuff. They wind up with nothing but a miracle. Christina Pickles is the reader.
ACTORS & ARTISTS
Cynthia Nixon made her film debut in Little Darlings at 12 years old and her Broadway debut at 14 in The Philadelphia Story. Since then she’s appeared in more than 40 plays, scores of films and television shows, and received 2 Emmys, 2 Tonys, and a Grammy Award. She is best known for her role as Miranda on HBO’s Sex and the City. In 2017, Nixon alternated the roles of Regina and Birdie with Laura Linney in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes on Broadway, winning her second Tony Award. She also appeared on numerous "best actress of 2018" lists for her portrayal of American poet Emily Dickinson in Terrence Davies' much-lauded film A Quiet Passion. Also in 2018 she ran for Governor of New York State. She will be seen next year in Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series Ratched opposite Sarah Paulson. Nixon spends a good portion of her off-time fighting for funding for New York public schools, abortion rights, and LGBT equality. She and her wife, Christine, have 3 children: Sam, Charlie, and Max.
Laurie Notaro is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club and the essay collections Autobiography of a Fat Bride, Ever Pirates, and Housebroken. In addition, she has written the novels There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, Spooky Little Girl, and most recently, Crossing the Horizon. Notaro is the co-founder of Planet
magazine and previously worked as a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Glamour, The New York Times, and BUST, among other publications.
Christina Pickles has appeared on and off-Broadway in Man and Superman, The Seagull, You Can’t Take It With You, War and Peace, The Misanthrope, A Pagan Place, and Chez Nous. She received the Los Angeles Critics Awards for Cloud Nine, Undiscovered Country, and The Letters of Janet Flanner. Her television credits include Saint Elsewhere, earning her five Emmy nominations; Friends, for which she received an Emmy nomination as Ross and Monica’s dysfunctional mother; How I Met Your Mother; and Childrens Hospital. Her films include Grace of My Heart, Legends of the Fall, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and The Wedding Singer. Christina recently appeared on the TV series Great News,Doubt, 9JKL, and Dollface. Pickles won an Emmy Award for her starring role on the Web series Break a Hip.
Kirsten Vangsness is best known as Penelope Garcia on the CBS drama Criminal Minds; however, she can be found in other places, including a few podcasts (Selected Shorts and Voyage to the Stars), the film noir spoof Kill Me Deadly, and Curtains, the animated short she created, which will be released in 2020. She was nominated for Playwright of the Year by LA Weekly and is a company member of Hollywood's Theater of NOTE. Vangsness recently returned from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where two of her plays, Mess and Cleo, Theo and Wu, were performed at Assembly Rooms. In her spare time, Vangsness buses tables at the Blinking Owl Distillery, which she co-owns, in Santa Ana.
Jeanette Winterson’s works include the short story collections The World and Other Places and Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days and the novels Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry, The Passion, Written on the Body, The PowerBook, Lighthousekeeping, The Stone Gods, and most recently Frankissstein: A Love Story. Her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, was published in 2012. Winterson has been honored with England’s Whitbread Prize, the LAMBDA Literary Award, the American Academy’ s E. M. Forster Award, and the Prix d’argent at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2018, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for her services to literature.