Watch what you say about Rudolph this Christmas. In this politically correct age, he's the "nasally empowered" reindeer.
And avoid the word "ghost," as in "Ghost of Christmas Past."
It's "spiritual facilitator," says James Finn Garner, whose best-selling "Politically Correct Holidays" has sold more than 1 million copies since hitting the stories in October.
The 99-page book is a satirical, 1990s version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and four other well-loved Christmas tales.
Garner takes aim at what he considers political correctness run amok.
"I think we're blinded sometimes at our attempt to be totally equitable," he said in a recent interview.
Since landing on bookstore shelves Oct. 27, the collection of tales has made it onto several best-seller lists.
In his book, Rudolph is not the Santa sycophant of the well-known children's jingle. Instead, he considers himself "an angry young reindeer" whose shining nose will help him overthrow Santa's oppressive tyranny.
When Santa asks, "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" Rudolph responds, "No. Not without concessions."
Like no work on holidays.
Frosty the Snowman is reinvented as Frosty the Persun of Snow, who chides the boy and girl who made him for arguing over his gender without asking his preference first. And what he wants to be is genderless.
The children and their creation then plan a march on Washington to protest ozone depletion threatening to cause the untimely demise of you-know-who.
" 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" becomes " 'Twas the Night Before Solstice," with children nestled in their beds, dreaming of lentils and warm whole-grain bread instead of sugarplums.
In Garner's take on "The Nutcracker," the coveted toy is viewed as "an obvious symbol of castration and emasculation."
And in the newfangled "A Christmas Carol," Tiny Tim is a "vertically challenged pre-adult" named "Diminutive Timon." He raises his glass and says, "May a higher entity [if there is such a thing] bless us, everyone."
Garner, 35, is a Chicago-based author of two other best-sellers, "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories" and "Once Upon a More Enlightened Time." He has a degree in English literature.
He says political correctness goes especially overboard at Christmas, citing a college where mistletoe was banned because it "tends to sanctify uninvited endearment" and a Chicago principal who forbade a pupil to wear a jingle bell to school because it symbolized the religious holiday.
"I don't remember Christmas being this weird when I was a kid," he said.