Friday, December 24, 2010

"Holiday Message"

I wrote the following in 1967. It appeared in The Muse, Elmont Memorial High School's literary magazine...

Holiday Message

"Good morning, this is Mr. Carver speaking. As you know, this is the last day of school before the holidays, and, as principal of the high school, I am called upon to make the traditional holiday greeting to the student body. What I have to say is this. While you are enjoying the holidays, giving and receiving gifts, visiting with friends and relatives, and ringing in the New Year, take a moment to think about what these holidays symbolize -- 'Peace on Earth' and 'Brotherhood Among Men.'

"One other announcement this morning. There will be an air raid drill following the first period this morning."

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Here Comes Santa Claus

As I write this, our local volunteer fire department is having part of their annual "Santa Claus Parade." With sirens and horns blaring and lights flashing, they drive all their equipment up and down every street in the town. The last truck pulls a flatbed that carries Santa Claus and his sled. They have been doing this for a number of years now, so we have gotten used to the idea that it is not the end of the world nor is an entire neighboring block being consumed in flames... at least not in the last couple of weekends before Christmas. (Were an actual fire to break out, one wonders what might happen to Santa. Would he be left to fend for himself? More likely that he is actually one of the firefighters and would be manning a hose in full suit and beard.)

Back in the days when Chuck and Sammi were little and even in years before they were born, I would dress in a Santa suit and pay a Christmas Eve visit to children on our block and those of various friends of ours.

One year, I had to stop and gas up the car. I'm sure you can imagine the surprise of two small children in a car at the next pump when they saw Santa pumping gas. I told them that the reindeer were not feeling well, gave each a candy cane and went on my way.

Another time, the son of one of our friends was just on the cusp of not believing in Santa any more. He was convinced that the Santa who showed up at his house was, in fact, his uncle. Of course we arranged it so I arrived...and then said uncle walked in right behind me.

For a few years when Chuck and Sammi were young, we used to spend part of Christmas Eve with our friends Merrill and Marty and their kids. Some time during the evening, I would slip away to their garage, change into the Santa suit and come in the back door. None of the four kids seemed to notice that I was missing whenever Santa arrived, but one year their daughter Jessica mentioned that "Santa has the same kind of shoes as Uncle Bob." (After that, my switch included changing to a pair of black boots.)

It's been a number of years since I last donned the suit and beard, but they wait dutifully in the cedar closet for the next time I'll need to declare, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."