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Prologue

How David Sedaris became a Christmas writer — and how he started writing stories about the holiday that are so dark that sometimes it seems that he's trying to single handedly destroy Christmas. We hear from members of David's own family, and from David, all of whom insist that David loves Christmas.

Act Three: Based On A True Story

A Hollywood TV producer tries to convince a church of evangelical Christians to sell out a member of their own congregation. Matt Malloy reads. He was one of the stars of the acclaimed independent film In the Company of Men.Also in this act: Dickens vs.

Act Two: Santaland Diaries

Writer David Sedaris's true account of two Christmas seasons he spent working as an elf at Macy's department store in New York.  When a shorter version of this story first aired on NPR's Morning Edition, it generated more tape requests than any story in the show's history to that point.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Nissenbaum, author of a history called The Battle for Christmas, which explains when people started believing in a Santa who arrives Christmas Eve carrying presents. It was in 1822, and incredibly, the poem that created our modern idea of Santa is still around, known by heart by tens of millions.

Prologue

When is a chicken your friend? When is he your dinner? This American Life's former webmeister Elizabeth Meister talks with Kamiko Overs, an 11-year-old girl at the annual poultry exhibition run by the American Poultry Association in Columbus, Ohio. Elizabeth Meister is a producer with Long Haul Productions.

Act Four: Open Your Big Mouth

What happens when you go into a place—in this case a prison—where there are all sorts of codes about what you're never supposed to say...and you say every one of them. Rick Reynolds tells a story from his one-man show (and CD) All Grown Up and No Place to Go, about performing stand-up comedy at a maximum security prison just before Christmas a few years ago.