I don't know how, but it seems I have avoided writing what I call, a "Christmas column" in the issue near Dec. 25 in each of my years here at The Mirror.
My old buddy Elwood Hamilton handled Christmas Day our first year. And another former staff writer, Jerrie Macintire, took care of those duties last year.
So for the past two years I have somehow finagled my way out of tackling probably the most difficult column known to man. (I say it's difficult because - like Elwood - I think attempting to write a good Christmas column can make me sound insincere, cheesy or both.)
I think the first year just panned out with Elwood's column on Christmas Day. In case you haven't picked up on the rotation, I write a column one week, and the other staff writer takes the following week. (Jason Smith has the unenviable task of writing one every week.)
As I remember, Elwood's column was very good. He wrote about having to travel to see both his family and his wife's family on the same day to celebrate the holiday. He also mentioned the difference in the Yankee and southern cuisine he'd be eating.
The second year, I know for a fact I weaseled my way out of the Christmas column. Just a few weeks prior, I had written one to appear in the Thanksgiving edition. It was about something for which I wasn't thankful. Not very memorable.
The next week I begged Jerrie to trade with me so I could write about my Thanksgiving trip to the in-laws' house in San Antonio. She graciously agreed to the week off. After all, I believe the season is about giving.
Don't think I hadn't counted the weeks to see when the pre-Christmas issue would fall. I had that one planned out beautifully. Jerrie was stuck with writing a column in the issue to come out on Christmas Eve Eve (as I call Dec. 23), a tough task no doubt.
She did a wonderful job, though. Much better than I could have done. She wrote about how Christmas has changed over the years. She stated that the decorations and toys are much less do-it-yourself and that the holiday used to be more relaxing and less commercial.
Of course it was exactly right, not cheesy or insincere at all. Anyone who ever met Jerrie would know that she was incapable of being either of those things. And her Christmas column was a reflection of that.
As for me, it's a long-standing endeavor to avoid tackling the Christmas column altogether. Sure, I could say that Jesus is the reason for the season, but honestly, I worry about people who haven't picked up on that fact by now.
From the looks of things, though - namely the ever-shrinking space here - I have yet again engineered a way around writing the dreaded Christmas column. And you were waiting for me to finally get to the point and be cheesy and insincere.
Clever, ain't I?