George Saunders Reads Stephen Colbert a Christmas Bedtime Story

Posted on December 11, 2015

Stephen Colbert loves a good bedtime story and loves to invite famous authors on The Late Show to lull him to sleep. So far, Jonathan Franzen and John Irving have read Stephen a story they wrote just for the occasion. His latest invitee was award winning short story author George Saunders, a MacArthur Genius Grant fellow and author of The Tenth of December. Saunders joined Colbert to read the perfect short story about the true meaning of Christmas.

Employing his favorite semi-stream of consciousness style, Saunders spun a tale about a father figuring out how to tell his children that this Christmas will have to be lean due to the family's financial setbacks. The short story "Festive" features a father making entries into his journal and musing about what to do next. Saunders' tale is a sad, yet sometimes funny commentary on parenting, the economy and what Christmas is all about.

The dad writes, "Dear Diary, Tonight December 8th. Christmas around corner. Must admit -- slight sense of dread. This Christmas has to be modest. We always say, never do. Note to self...Set low dollar limit per kid. Exchange homemade presents...Christmas morning sing carols, list many blessings in life...go in yard...gaze at sky to assuage kids' sense of having been gypped by small limit."

Colbert's other two author storytellers went for funnier, scarier bits. But this story hit the spot. Stephen listened intently in his pajamas and tie, while clutching his favorite teddy bear. At the end of the tale the father asks his children, "Who was Jesus?" His son Edward's answer is absolutely hilarious. It involved Tiny Tim, and that time when Jesus shut down an angry mob with his amazing laser eyes. Now that's a great Christmas tale. Take a look:

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