Snow: Perched on the cusp of the Christmas cliff

December 22, 2012 

Ah, here we are once more, perched on the precipice of the Christmas cliff. Never mind deficit spending.

This is a time when adults like to reminisce about their most memorable Christmases.

I won’t bore you again about the time when I was 10 and Santa Claus didn’t show at all. I will only say that the experience taught me that Christmas isn’t just about getting gifts.

I well remember my loneliest Christmas Eve. During World War II, I was spending a week’s R&R in the tiny town of Mackay, Australia.

Homesick and half a world from home, I was participating in a Christmas Eve sing-along under a star-studded sky. I wasn’t the only bloke close to blubbering like a baby as we sang “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones we used to know.”

“I’ll be home for Christmas” is almost a national compulsion. People will go to almost any lengths to be with family.

One Christmas, my mother and I were alone on Christmas Eve and very lonely.

It had snowed and the roads had iced over. They were seemingly impassable.

But then, I heard the crunch of wheels, ran to the window and saw through the darkness, the lights of a car slowly inching its way to our driveway.

A bachelor brother had risked his life by making the treacherous 32-mile trip from Winston-Salem.

He was more welcome by far than Santa Claus.

You might entertain your family by asking the children to recall their most memorable Christmas gifts.

My daughter remembers her “tin can Christmas.”

At the time, Hudson-Belk department store was pushing a gimmicky gift idea in which the store offered to seal such small items as jewelry, perfume, etc. inside a tin can decorated in seasonal motif.

The boss must have been generous to me that Christmas. I went to the bank next door and obtained crisp $100 bills which, along with ballpoint pens, were sealed inside the cans for each of my little girls.

For the next week, the children almost drove us nuts shaking the cans and guessing at their contents.

On Christmas morn, after I opened the cans with a can opener, they waxed ecstatic over their unexpected windfall of wealth.

I hope that you will spend time with a child under 6 during Christmas, even if you have to rent one. Children provide the seasoning for the Christmas experience, which of course, began with a babe.

Do as the king did

Local philanthropist Dr. Assad Meymandi sends along an e-mail reminding us why we stand when the Christmas classic, the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, is played.

King George II was in the audience when the work was first performed in 1742. The king became so moved by the majesty of the music that he stood.

Because it has always been customary for everyone to rise when the king rises, it’s traditional for audiences throughout the world to stand when the chorus is sung.

Storm door vs. diamond

Choosing the “right gift” for that someone special can be a chancy challenge.

A workman once hanging a storm door for us said that when he installed a door at another home, the wife fairly danced with excitement.

“This is what I wanted for Christmas,” she said. “But the dear fool gave me a diamond instead.”

Christmas is a good time to inventory the many unwrapped gifts we take for granted: the love we receive, the splendor of a sunset, the song of a thrush and each day’s dawning.

For me, among my most treasured Christmas gifts are nature’s promise of spring and the daily waning of winter.

So I hope you’ve been good all year and won’t wake up Tuesday to find a pesky gray squirrel in your stocking, munching away on the pecans, Brazil nuts and other goodies.

Merry Christmas to each of you.


A Dec. 9 item on the proper way to install a toilet paper roll was misattributed to Don Shea, former longtime WTVD sports director, who had commented on another item. The mistake was mine. I apologize to Mr. Shea.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or

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