Even to someone like me, who loves the Christmas holiday and the associated traditions, some holiday customs tend to be irritants:
- Mailboxes stuffed with unwanted, unsolicited specialty catalogues
- Cloying, sticky fruitcake
- Boring Christmas letters
I’ve composed the annual Grout holiday letter for about thirty years and defend this writing genre, thinking these missives don’t deserve the bad rap they get. Save those criticisms for chemotherapy, dead car batteries, and blizzards. My early versions were hand-written – a nice personal touch – but excruciatingly laborious. The age of word processing saved this driven scribe but presented new challenges:
- How to hold my readers’ interest while reporting the mundane facts of life
- How to include humorous anecdotes while avoiding trite accounts of brilliant grandchildren, lengthy detailed medical status confidentialities, and gobs of wealth amassed in real estate maneuvers.
- Finding a suitable theme, tone of voice, and opening sentence (sounds a lot like other creative writing endeavors)
This year, as I performed brainless household maintenance, my little gray cells cast about for enlightenment. Inspiration hit me: I’ll ask Santa to be my guest blogger and share his North Pole POV and any possible seasonal frustrations. He obliged and here are some of his insights:
North Pole, Christmas, 2014
Ho Ho Kids.
Who knew an old gent like me would resort to electronic media to communicate with my fan base out there as they wait impatiently for my annual arrival with the holiday loot? Hope you can tear yourself away from text messages and selfies long enough to read my first blog posting. According to my lead elf Andy, I need to get with the times and build my fan base on social media. And he’s been nagging me about signing up for Facebook and Pinterest. Guess there’s a reason his workers call him “Yakity Andy.” Seems kind of time-consuming at my busiest time of year – but here goes.
Have you ever wondered how a typical Christmas Eve gift run goes? I start by looking over my travel itinerary and updating my customer data base. Let’s see what’s new in Glendale, Arizona. Ah, the Christmas tree at the Grout’s house is up and decorated. That sure makes for a quick and easy visit. There’s nothing worse than shimmying down a soot-clogged chimney and finding no tree by the fireside, no stockings hanging on the mantle, and no plate of cookies waiting on the kitchen counter. While I search, Rudolph and his reindeer cohorts stomp around on the roof, making enough noise to wake the dead, anxious to get back on the trail. Rudy wasn’t too happy when I installed that GPS display on the sleigh dashboard, even though I assured him we still may have that occasional foggy night when we need his red nose.
I’m glad to see even old people like the Grouts still believe. Wow! They must have shopped early or on-line because the gifts for family are all wrapped and waiting under the tree. Yakity has been warning me lately the UAW wants to come in to our North Pole “shop” and get the crew organized – maybe even install an assembly line – so out goes the hand-crafting. And as for wages – aren’t free room and board and all the cookies you can eat enough? And who else gets all Christmas day to kick back, eat your fill, and watch football until the New Year? Makes me want to pull up stakes, relocate to the South Pole, and hire a bunch of industrious penguins.
I see the Grout’s grandkids are growing up. Both of them were off to college last fall, one starting his freshman year at Fort Lewis College in Durango. He made the football team and I really like the red shirt he wore at all the early morning workouts. Red is just about my favorite color. His big sister is in her third year at the University of Arizona in Tucson and still loving performing arts classes. She’s in the home stretch. And their mom and pop are busy working, flying around the country to business meetings almost as much as me and my reindeer gang.
And what’s this? I see there’s a gift wrapped and waiting alongside the home grown orange and grapefruit the Grouts always leave for me. (It’s a nice break from all the sweets that give me a sugar high.) This gift is “Pour moi?” Why it’s a copy of Mrs. Grout’s first published novel Chasing the Strawberry Moon. Promises some good reading during the long dark winter nights at the NP.
Look, they’ve left me a note. It says “Dear Santa: Thank you for stopping by. We hope this year finds you, like both of us, in tip top health and looking forward to another prosperous year in 2015.” Guess I better go. I need to call Mrs. Claus and tell her to start warming the hot chocolate. Sure do like these smart phones with the face time feature. Think I’ll take out my land-based phone pretty quick. All I get are those annoying call center fellas wanting to sell me a home security system (who in their right mind would trek to the North Pole and try to find me?) or tell me I’ve won a free flight to some far off land (Who needs it? I can fly anywhere I want for free.) So up the chimney I go and off we fly into the night sky, hoping to avoid any falling meteors and get home to sit by the fire and say Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Santa and Judy and Dan