The most wonderful time of the year is approaching and Ed Daly, a resident of Hoboken, knows it. After working on Wall Street for a decade, Ed Daly decided to give his career a full spin and become an author. Her latest work is on one of our favorite holidays, Christmas. It answers all the questions we didn’t know we had, such as why are we decorating our trees, why are ugly sweaters a thing this season? Read on to learn more about Ed’s project, The Christmas Book.
Hoboken Girl: Where are you from and what brought you to Hoboken?
Ed Daly: I am originally from Fair Haven, NJ, one hour south of Hoboken. From an early age, I always wanted to live in the city. When I read The field mouse and the city mouse As a child, I always shot for the City Mouse.
Despite the tremendous growth Hoboken has experienced in the 20+ years I have lived here, the city has managed to keep its old world charm. I love it here and have no plans to leave someday.
HG: What inspired you to become a writer?
ED: I never studied to be a writer, but during my time on Wall Street, I felt I needed a creative outlet. They always say write about what you know, so I picked a topic that is particularly close to my heart: breakfast cereal. After the publication of my first book in 2011, Cereals: Snap, Crackle, Pop Culture, I was addicted.
HG: Tell us about your new book, The Christmas Book: A Complete Guide to Your Favorite Holiday.
ED: The Christmas Book is intended to be a source of non-secular happiness for all who enjoy the holiday season. Do you know that little childish feeling we all get as Christmas approaches? I wanted to capture all of that spirit in a book that could be revisited with family decorations every year. And I hope it will be a fun holiday gift for others too.
The Christmas Book explore everything: why we decorate trees inside our homes, why gingerbread is a Christmas food, how ugly sweaters became a thing, what are the best-selling toys of all time and all kinds of Christmas customs that seem pretty hit and miss when we stop to think about them. The book also takes a look at how Christmas is consumed in the media, from a ranking of one hundred adaptations of A Christmas Carol plus stories and lists of all the great Christmas movies, songs and TV shows ever made. If you’re in the mood for an under the radar Christmas movie, this book has it.
HG: Of all the things to write about, what brought you to the origins of Christmas?
ED: In short, I love Christmas. The past year has been a difficult year for everyone with Covid and general feelings of isolation, loss and uncertainty around the world. I wanted to focus on something positive and hopeful that brings people together. What could be better than the joy and optimism of the Christmas spirit?
I was writing a freelance column on the best Christmas TV episodes, and then I started asking myself more questions. Why is it It’s a wonderful life so popular over 70 years after its release? What is fig pudding? Why are we kissing under the mistletoe? In a few days, I was writing an entire book.
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HG: How long did it take to write it and how did your process go?
ED: I’m a big believer in the idea of going all-in at Christmas, but not starting until the day after Thanksgiving. This is when we always receive our tree, for example. Being fully focused on Christmas throughout the year seemed odd. It’s been a year of constant consumption of Christmas movies, songs and TV episodes while researching and writing about the holidays. For the first six months of this year, my only media outside of Christmas were the Knicks and college basketball. It was surreal walking the streets in May, with “Jingle Bells” in my head.
HG: Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
ED: This project made me even more in awe of the Internet. Sure, it’s a consuming aspect of our lives, but researching this book reminded me of unlimited content. A Christmas Carol adaptation with Barbie? It’s on the internet. A 1970s preacher’s interpretation of “Away in a Manger”? Someone uploaded it to YouTube. As hard as I tried it was impossible to block the internet.
HG: What are your goals for this year?
ED: Encourage lots of people to read and hopefully enjoy my book! Writing is fun. Self-promotion, not so much. Longer term goal: I would like to apply some of the lessons from almost every Christmas special to my everyday life. The character of Bill Murray in Shaved has that great quote on Christmas, “For a few hours out of the year, we are the people we always hoped we would be.”
HG: What does a typical day look like for you?
ED: Get the kids ready for school, cycle by the water, write, then rewrite (after my wife pointed out all the horrible grammar), watch sports.
HG: What has been the highlight of your career / life so far?
ED: I know I’m supposed to say I’m the dad, but, really, that was talking to Cal Ripken in line for a sandwich at Vito a few years ago.
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HG: What advice would you give to writers who aspire to write a book someday?
ED: Make sure you absolutely like the topic you are writing about. Writing a book is an all-in-one process. You will be thinking about your book all the time. Every conversation you have will trigger a reflection on how it relates to your writing project.
HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?
ED: My family loves Carpe Diem. And Mario’s Pizza is our favorite neighborhood.
HG: What do you like most about Hoboken?
ED: I like being able to walk everywhere. In 15 minutes, I can be in every type of restaurant or store or be in New York. When I return to visit my family on the Jersey Shore, I remember the constant urge to be in your car. I would hate that.
HG: What’s your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?
ED: Almost every day I cycle along the Hoboken to Edgewater cycle path. Even though I’ve been doing this for years, I still enjoy the iconic skyline across the Hudson River.
HG: Tell us about another company in the area that you admire.
ED: We love Finnegan’s Pub with everything to do with beer, chicken wings, the best fries in town, sports and the best concert venue in Hoboken.
HG: What’s your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?
ED: I live right next to Columbus Park, so it’s been a pillar of our lives since our boys were little. Lots of firsts there – on the swings, learning to ride a bike, playing ball. And a lot of football and basketball. It’s like having a really big backyard where we can all hang out with friends.
HG: What do you think has to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?
ED: I am extremely disappointed that the cinema is leaving town during the pandemic. Although the industry has changed a lot, I think there will always be a demand for a theater in town.
To learn more about Ed Daly‘books, click here.