I officially pronounced myself in the Christmas spirit last week.
I put up the tree, wore my first Santa necktie of the season, received my first card in the mail (Bruce and Dee Stanfield are the winners, as always) and read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to a class of second-grade students.
There were a few challenges, especially during those afternoons when it was 72 degrees and there was a snow machine outside my office window in Mercer Village.
Still, I got to ride out to see some beautiful lights and decorations. I attended two children’s Christmas concerts and went to a couple of parties. We are making plans to go caroling this week.
Since I interview people for a living, I decided to try out a few holiday questions on myself first.
I am calling it the “12 Ways of Christmas,” minus the partridge in a pear tree. I encourage you to answer them, too.
1. What is your favorite Christmas song?
“Mary, Did You Know?” which was written by Macon’s own Buddy Greene. There’s a three-way tie for second between “Away in a Manger,” “The First Noel” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” (Sorry, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” did not make the cut.)
2. What about your favorite Christmas movie?
“It’s a Wonderful Life.” No contest. I watch it every Christmas Eve. God bless the George Bailey in all of us. My family can recite almost every line from “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s A Christmas Story.”
3. There also has to be a favorite book, right?
“A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote. It has stayed in my heart since I was a child. When I was a freshman at the University of Georgia, I sat on the cold ground and listened to Capote read it at a lecture outside on the Reed Quadrangle. I understand it has recently been made into a musical. I’m not so sure I’m going to like that.
4. What is your own favorite Christmas memory as a child?
Riding the Pink Pig at Rich’s department store in downtown Atlanta. Priscilla and Percival circled above the toy department on a monorail. It was magic.
5. What is the best children’s book for Christmas?
“The Polar Express.” When I read it to children, I pull a tiny bell out of my pocket and tell them it is from Santa’s sleigh. I still believe, so I can still hear the bell.
6. Do you still believe?
There is an old saying about the three stages of a man’s life. He believes in Santa Claus. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He is Santa Claus.
7. Do you watch your calories during the holidays?
I have never had much of a sweet tooth, so fudge, divinity and eggnog are never very tempting. Gingerbread is for making houses. And I can’t stand to be in the same room with fruitcake.
8. Is there someone at the top of your mistletoe list?
I will start with my wife. I think it’s wise to stop there, too.
9. Is there anyone you would like readers to remember this Christmas?
I sometimes think about the late Bill Meriwether. He was a retired photographer who would always greet folks with “Merry Christmas,” as in Meriwether. It didn’t matter whether it was the Fourth of July of the Fourth of December. He answered the phone with “Merry Christmas.” What a wonderful spirit.
10. Are there any Christmases you would rather not remember?
Christmas 1967. My dad was in Vietnam and couldn’t be with us. And my old sports editor, Harley Bowers, died on Christmas Eve in 2002. He was like a father to me. Instead of watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I headed to the Telegraph office, where Harley wrote more than 11,000 columns, to write his obituary.
11. Have you been a good boy this year?
Next question, please.
12. If you had to pick eight words to describe Christmas, what would they be?
I would quote the Scottish poet, Alexander Smith, who wrote: “Christmas is the day that holds time together.”