Christmases at the Sun
Dear Readers are familiar with my very occasional complaint about the difficulty of coming up with a new column idea each week. When this form of writer’s block descends, while waiting for some fascinating or humorous event to fall in my lap, I plumb previous columns for inspiration – or, twice a year or so, a way to rerun one. Turns out, Christmases here have been what the Chinese would call an interesting time for yours truly, at least according to this column. In 2015, I wrote my first movie review about the 1964 not-so-Christmas classic, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” My daughter, Anna (aka “The Hatchling”) and I watch it every year, and she’s begun sharing this Christmas Craptacular with her friends. I count that as a win for parental influence and bad movie-making, and continue to recommend the movie highly. In 2016, I shared the tale of a “Dog-bite Christmas,” in which folks were introduced to Sun office manager Mimi Logsdon’s granddog Maggie, an elderly beagle-Jack Russell mix. Maggie apparently objected to me leaning down to share the holiday spirit with her and bit me on the nose. It didn’t hurt much, but I bled a bit and required a band-aid. As I noted, “In the journalism profession, we are occasionally told to not stick our noses where they don’t belong, and in my career, never has there been a clearer example of what failing to observe that advice can do.” No lawsuits were filed, and I’m told Maggie is still with us. Fortunately, her shots were up to date, though folks who’ve raised the occasional eyebrow over some of my writing since may think otherwise. In 2017, I wrote about the picnic basket full of homemade cookies and brownies delivered to the Sun by erstwhile community volunteer Peggy Carter Seal, and the box of presents she’d left your humble scribe. I ate many of the former and still enjoy the latter, including the “Here’s Johnny” coffee mug and “Re-elect John Coyle for Judge in 2014” notepad. (The gifts were a major upgrade from 2016, when she’d left me ashes and coal. I guess I was pretty bad that year.) Last year, in our Dec. 27 issue, I wrote about a big boo boo we’d made the week before: the salutation “Marry Christmas” in bright red cursive at the top of the front page. I suggested it was a deliberate mistake, noting, “ … We love Christmas so much that we’d like to marry it. As our president might say (and perhaps has), no one loves Christmas more than us. We don’t want a weekend get-away with Christmas; we want to marry it. We weren’t trying to enter the so-called “War on Christmas” that some media outlets spend each December promoting. Again, I ask you this: do you know anyone else who wants to be with Christmas, through thick and thin, sickness and health, forever and ever? I think not.” I ‘fessed up later in the column and did not accept a smart-aleck’s suggestion that we front the following week’s paper with “Hoppy New Year.” Ms. Seal is nothing if not consistent, and last week she delivered another box of goodies and two presents for me. She told our front office staff that I always open gifts early, and to make sure to tell me that I needed to open them consecutively. Nine days before Christmas 2019, I did just that. The one labeled “EPIC GIFT INSIDE” contained a vintage Panasonic cassette recorder – about 25 times the size of the digital one I lost at the Relay For Life last May. It also came with a cassette with Christmas music and another labeled “Australia – 2nd.” The other box contained a lovely bell to remind me of ringing a Salvation Army bell a few weeks ago and a coffee mug with my name and title on it. On the other side of the cup is a phrase employed in a column written after I lost my recorder in which I kinda sorta threatened her for teasing me about it: “Payback is a five-letter word.” I’ve no time for payback this year, though. We have early deadlines the next two weeks, and I have a tape about Australia to listen to.