"Congratulations, Mr. Sedaris. You're an elf."

It's difficult to think of any better way to kick-off the approaching holiday season than to attend a reading by longtime humorist David Sedaris, whose brilliant lines include the preceding quote from "The SantaLand Diaries." In fact, a 1992 reading of "The SantaLand Diaries" on NPR, in which Sedaris tells of his experience as a Christmas elf at New York's Macy's Department store, is what brought him into the big time.

"I think that saying yes, or being afraid to say no, leads to a lot more stories than playing up a side of myself," the somewhat press-shy Sedaris, a recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, recently said to a writer at the online teen publication "Rookie." "Most people, something starts to happen, and they're able to say 'No, I don't want this to happen,' and "No, you're going too far,' and 'No I don't like the way you're talking to me.' But I'm afraid to say that."

And that reluctance has served the playwright, author and commentator well, as evidenced in the personal essays he writes and has published, including in books "Barrel Fever," "Naked," "Holidays on Ice," "Dress Your Family in Corduroy," "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" and "Me Talk Pretty One Day."

A Night With David Sedaris
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Info: $48 to $58; 301-581-5100; strathmore.org

Although Sedaris and his sister Amy are both internationally know humorists -- humor runs in the family said the North Carolina-bred author who lives in France.

"Amy and I are not exceptional. I think the only reason that things worked out for us the way they did was because we were ambitious, whereas some other people in my family weren't," he said. "I just spent some time with my sister Gretchen and I thought, 'How could I have ever forgotten how funny she is?' And I saw my sister Lisa earlier this month and thought the same thing. Lisa writes as well [as us], but she's never been interested in showing it to other people. The only difference with me and Amy is that Raleigh, [N.C.,] was too small for us, and we wanted to get out of there as soon as we could. Whereas my brother's content to just be a funny guy at a party."

Lucky for all of us that we're invited to David Sedaris' party where chuckles abound.