Here's Johnny!: Christmas 2017
Before I wrote the words that will make or break this Christmas for every Dear Reader, I looked back at previous Christmas-related columns. (In the spirit of Christmas, I’ll admit that I was looking to steal a few paragraphs and thus lighten the heavy burden that each week’s missive places upon me … and that I’m just kidding about the impact of this slice of page two on y’all.) First, we have a crime on our hands at The Sun: the Christmas 2014 column is gone. I cannot find the word document I sent to the editor, and as the victim of a vicious man-cold, I don’t have the energy to sort through old issues. However … The following year, eight days before Christmas, I reviewed a Christmas not-so-classic that is essential holiday viewing for every English-speaking citizen of this world and others. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is a 1964 film featuring Santa Claus, Martians, stock footage from NASA and the U.S. military, a cheesy polar bear, and Torg, a robot sent into Santa’s workshop to subdue the man in red. I’d picked it up in the $5 bin at a major retailer and for that movie alone, it was worth each of the 530 pennies (counting sales tax). My guess is that each of the 39 movies, shorts and cartoons on the two-DVD set were picked chiefly because they were in the public domain, and thus free. “The movie opens with an old-fashioned title screen bearing the words, Santa Clause Conquers the Martians. Further mistakes, likely not deliberate, follow fast and furiously,” I wrote. For Dear Readers who’ve made watching the movie or reading my review of it a holiday tradition, I will go no further, except to agree with a friend who called it a “Christmas Craptacular.” Last year, three days before the big day, Dear Readers were inflicted with the tale of how I wound up with a Santa nose for Christmas. I began by explaining that I’m often -- well, sometimes -- asked where I get my column ideas, and that I tell such people, “Sometimes, they jump up and bite me.” That’s exactly what happened last year. Six days before Christmas, I’d gone into Sun office manager Mimi Logsdon’s office to greet her grand-dog, an elderly beagle-Jack Russell mix named Maggie. Because I consider myself Dr. Doolittle, Jr., after petting Maggie’s head, I leaned down and got in her face. Maggie bit me on the nose. It didn’t hurt much, but I bled a bit and required a bandage. Mimi promised that Maggie’s shots were up to date, and, nearly a year later, I’ve yet to wander the streets of Versailles with what appears to be a mouth full of toothpaste. I considered not getting rabies to be the best Christmas gift I got last year. In that very same column, I noted that I had received a gift of precious gems disguised as coal and switches disguised as switches from one Peggy Carter S. The coal’s still on my desk – I hear it’s going to make a comeback during the Trump administration – and the switches are still on my file cabinet. A few weeks later, Mrs. S. told me that in 2017, she would no longer be giving coal and switches as gifts, no matter how richly deserving the recipients. Last week she delivered a picnic basket full of homemade cookies and brownies to The Sun, and, being the polite fellow that I am, I tried a few of each. They were quite good and, to my knowledge, no one here has been afflicted with food poisoning. Mrs. S. also left a present under the tree out front. Because I’m nosy (but not red-nosy anymore) and because I needed a nice finish to this column and because front office employee Karen Call said she wouldn’t be here later in the week, I opened it a week early. Inside the colorful Christmas box were an array of presents ranging from a “Here’s Johnny” coffee mug to a “Re-elect John Coyle for Judge in 2014” notepad. All of them, save perhaps the notepad, had some connection to a previous column, though my memory needed a bit of refreshing as to which gift was inspired by which column. However, as Karen and Mimi and I were sorting through the box, whom to our wondering eyes should appear but Mrs. S. Busted. I thanked her and gave her a hug and said I hope she didn’t catch my vicious man-cold. Mrs. S. didn’t seem too put out by me opening my gift(s) a week early, but I’ve got a feeling that she reconsiders her war on coal (and switches). Merry Christmas, y’all – and thanks.