Many Jewish kids in America can probably relate to Amanda Peet’s new children’s book, Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein (out Oct. 20). The title character is a little girl who wishes she celebrated Christmas like her friends and neighbors, and goes to great lengths to try to get Santa Claus to stop at her house—but along the way, learns that she may have been focused on the wrong things.
It’s a premise drawn in part from Peet’s real life—she and her husband, Game of Thrones show runner David Benioff, do not celebrate Christmas with their children. TIME caught up with Peet ahead of the book’s release to talk about holidays, her HBO comedy Togetherness and the fate of Jon Snow.
TIME: Why did you decide to write this book?
Peet: I had an inferiority complex as a Jewish mother, and this is my response to the feelings I had about not having Christmas.
What did you do as a child on Christmas?
We had a Christmas tree and we also celebrated Hannukah, and my husband did not have a tree, he didn’t celebrate Christmas at all, so we decided to dispense with Christmas.
What does your family do on Christmas Day now?
We have my sister and her family here, so it’s usually a lot of chaos—five kids running around.
What do your kids think of the book?
They’re nonplussed. I think they aren’t that impressed by anything that we do.
How do they feel about not doing Christmas?
They went through a period where they were asking a lot of questions all the time: Why can’t we have our house decorated? Why don’t we have a tree? Why don’t we have Santa? Everything is so pretty and romantic and they were experiencing feeling left out. I think they’re starting to understand that it’s not the end of the world.
You’re donating your author advance and part of the proceeds from sales to Seeds of Peace, which brings kids from conflict areas like Israel and Palestine together to a summer camp in Maine. Why?
When [co-author] Andrea [Troyer] and I wrote the book, we were in Belfast, and the war in Gaza was going on. So we were writing this book while we were over there, and we felt like we had to do something. And then weirdly this article came out in the New York Times about Seeds of Peace and how they ended up following these kids to see if there were any substantive results many years later from these friendships, and it was very powerful to us. We were very into the idea of doing a holiday book that acknowledges that it’s not a holiday for everyone.
What’s the status on Togetherness?
We already shot season 2, and I heard it’s coming back probably in January again with Girls.
Your character has such odd jobs on Togetherness. What’s the oddest job you ever had?
I used to work in a Bodum coffee shop and just press coffee all day.
You and your husband are both in the HBO family. What would a crossover episode of Togetherness and Game of Thrones look like?
Someone’s head would probably be chopped off. And there would be a lot of naked people running around Eagle Rock [Los Angeles].
In the past, you’ve joked that you tried to get yourself onto Thrones—are you still working on that?
Yes. Apparently my Jon Snow impression was dreadful, so I don’t think they’re going to be calling me anytime soon.
You’ve also said that you’ll leave your husband if Jon Snow really did get killed off at the end of last season. How is that going at home?
Well, David’s not here right now, but the divorce is underway until I see physical evidence that can save our marriage. I’m not kidding. I am kidding, but I’m not really kidding—I’ve never been so angry in my life.
Many people share your anger.
And they’re right.
What shows or movies or books or music are you into now?
For one thing we are watching this Danish show Klovn. It’s a comedy and we’re addicted to it. I highly recommend it. It’s a little bit like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but sillier—wait, is that possible? Maybe it’s a little warmer. And Last Man on Earth. You gotta watch it. I mean, we fall off the bed laughing.
Have you been listening to new music?
No, I listen to all the same music, and it’s very sad—it’s very mumsy of me. The girls are always asking me, “Please change that station,” because I like to listen to classic rock. And then they know the words to these songs, these Taylor Swift songs, and I’ve never heard of them and I don’t understand where they’re getting this. All I know is that I’m a loser.
They just soak this stuff up.
How? How? I say, “Where did you hear this song?” She’ll say, “In school.” What are they teaching them in there?
Now, I just read an insanely brilliant book. It’s Roz Chast’s book, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? It’s very hard to explain how a graphic novel could be so profoundly moving about something as complicated as taking care of aging parents.
Is that something you’ve had to deal with?
Well, my mom has Parkinson’s, but you don’t even have to have had aging parents to understand. I have never laughed so hard and then the next minute, in a hairpin turn, been so deeply moved. Her drawings are cartoonish, and you can’t believe you’re going on a ride with these people who are just cartoons. It’s one of the most remarkable things you’ve ever seen or read.
Do you have a dream project that you want to work on at some point?
Game of Thrones? With Sarah Paulson. Anything with Sarah Paulson.
I really like her.
She’s sitting right here. She’s my best friend. Something directed by Nicole Holofcener with Sarah Paulson, though I can’t imagine the three of us would get much done. We’d probably end up shopping at Barneys while the crew is sitting there being like, “Aren’t we shooting today?”
- TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2022
- Employers Take Note: Young Workers Are Seeking Jobs with a Higher Purpose
- Signs Are Pointing to a Slowdown in the Housing Market—At Last
- Welcome to the Era of Unapologetic Bad Taste
- As the Virus Evolves, COVID-19 Reinfections Are Going to Keep Happening
- A New York Mosque Becomes a Refuge for Afghan Teens Who Fled Without Their Families
- High Gas Prices are Oil Companies' Fault says Ro Khanna, and Democrats Should Go After Them
- Two Million Cases: COVID-19 May Finally Force North Korea to Open Up