The most wonderful time of the year is approaching and Hoboken resident Ed Daly knows all about it. After working in Wall Street for a decade, Ed Daly decided to give his career a complete 180 and become an author. His latest work is about one of our favorite holidays, Christmas. He answers all the questions we didn’t know we had, such as why do we decorate our trees, why are ugly sweaters a thing during this season? Keep reading to learn more about Ed’s project, The Christmas Book.
Hoboken Girl: Where are you originally from and what brought you to Hoboken?
Ed Daly: I’m originally from Fair Haven, NJ, an hour south of Hoboken. From an early age, I always wanted to live in a city. When I read The Country Mouse and the City Mouse as a kid, I was always pulling for the City Mouse.
Despite the tremendous growth Hoboken has had in the 20-plus years I have lived here, the city has managed to keep its old-school charm. I absolutely love it here and have no plans of ever leaving.
HG: What inspired you to be a writer?
ED: I never studied to be a writer but, during my time on Wall Street, I felt like I needed a creative outlet. They always say to write about what you know, so I picked a subject that is very near and dear to my heart – breakfast cereal. After my first book was published in 2011, Cereal: Snap, Crackle, Pop Culture, I was hooked.
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 non-secular source of happiness for everyone who loves the holiday season. You know that little kid feeling that we all get as Christmas approaches? I wanted to capture all of that spirit in one book that could be revisited along with family decorations every year. And my hope is that it will be a fun holiday gift for others as well.
The Christmas Book explores everything: Why we decorate trees inside our homes, why gingerbread is a Christmas food, how ugly sweaters became a thing, what are the top-selling toys of all time, and all sorts of Christmas customs that seem pretty random when we stop to think about them. The book also delves into how Christmas is consumed across media, from a ranking of one hundred adaptations of A Christmas Carol plus the backstories and listings of every major Christmas movie, song, and TV special ever made. If you’re in the mood for an under-the-radar Christmas movie – this book has got it.
HG: Of all things to write about, what drew you to the origins of Christmas?
ED: In short, I love Christmas. Last year was a rough 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 better than the joy and optimism of the Christmas spirit?
I was writing a freelance column about the best Christmas TV episodes and then started asking myself more questions. Why is It’s a Wonderful Life so popular more than 70 years after its release? What is figgy pudding? Why are we kissing under the mistletoe? Within a few days, I was writing a whole book.
HG: How long did it take to write it and what was your process like?
ED: I’m a big believer in going all-in on Christmas, but only starting the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when we always get our tree, for example. To be fully focused on Christmas all year long has felt odd. It’s been a year of constant consumption of Christmas movies, songs, and television episodes while researching and writing about the holiday. For the first six months of this year, my only non-Christmas media were the Knicks and college basketball. It’s been surreal, walking down the street in May, with “Jingle Bells” playing in my head.
HG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
ED: This project made me further in awe of the internet. Sure, it’s an all-consuming aspect of our lives but researching this book reminded me of the limitless content. A Christmas Carol adaptation starring Barbie? It’s on the internet. A 1970s preacher’s rendition of “Away in a Manger”? Someone has uploaded it to YouTube. As hard as I tried, it was impossible to stump 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-promoting, not so much. A larger-term goal: I would like to apply some of the lessons of nearly every Christmas special, to my everyday life. Bill Murray’s character in Scrooged has this great line about Christmas, “For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.”
HG: What does a typical day look like for you?
ED: Get the kids ready for school, ride my bike along the water, do some writing, then do some re-writing (after my wife points out all of the horrible grammar), watch sports.
HG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?
ED: I know I’m supposed to say being the father, but, really, it was talking to Cal Ripken in line waiting for a sandwich at Vito’s a couple of years ago.
HG: What advice would you give to writers who aspire to write a book one day?
ED: Make sure you absolutely love the subject you are writing about. Writing a book is an all-consuming process. You will be thinking about the subject of your book at all hours. Every conversation you have will trigger a thought in 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 neighborhood favorite.
HG: What do you love most about Hoboken?
ED: I love being able to walk everywhere. Within 15 minutes, I can enjoy every type of restaurant or store or get to New York City. When I go back to visit my family by the Jersey Shore, I’m reminded of the constant need to be in your car. I would hate that.
HG: What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?
ED: Almost every day, I ride my bike along the bike path from Hoboken to Edgewater. Even though I have been doing it for years, I still always appreciate the iconic skyline across the Hudson River.
HG: Tell us about another business in the area you admire.
HG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?
ED: I live right next to Columbus Park so it has been a mainstay in our lives since our boys were little. Lots of firsts there – on the swings, learning to ride bikes, playing catch. And lots of soccer and basketball. It’s like having a great big backyard where we can all meet up with friends.
HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken or Jersey City?
ED: I’m extremely bummed about the movie theater leaving town during the pandemic. While the industry has changed a lot, I think there will always be a demand for a theater in town.
Ed will be at Finnegan’s on December 1st from 6-8PM for a book signing event.