December 24th, 2011
08:51 AM ET

Letters to the President #1069: 'Another Christmas Eve'

Reporter's Note: Despite being plenty busy with final Christmas preps, here is today’s letter to President Obama.

Dear Mr. President,

Here we are on the doorstep of Christmas! My family and I will no doubt spend a few final, frantic hours getting ready; grab a late dinner; go to church, and then settle down with the proverbial visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.

I have, btw, never seen a sugar plum in my life, let alone a dancing one, so my notions of what this must look like are purely based on guesswork.

I’m not sure what your family has in mind for the day, and I would invite you all over, but I’m afraid we’ll be so busy that you’d be reduced to grabbing juice from the refrigerator and rustling up cookies form the pantry. Would not want to be such a lousy host, so for now I’ll just wish you the best and say maybe we can all get together between Christmas and New Year’s. Fair enough?

Speaking of busy, my yearly special All the Best/All the Worst is coming on tonight at 7 p.m. ET, if you get a chance to watch. It will also be on later…on the 31st and 1st, I think.

Anyway, it’s pretty funny. Hope you get a chance to see it.

Speaking of funny, I think of my father a good deal at this time of year. Ever since he died, our whole family has been starkly aware of his absence. As I write this, however, I am reminded of one of the many times that he moved us to laughter, and indeed, laughed at himself as he so readily did.

He had decided to make a large, plywood display for the front yard of our house; a series of life size cutouts of Santa, his sleigh, and all the reindeer. Being a frugal man (not stingy at all; actually quite generous, but not wasteful either) he decided to make it out of some old lumber he had behind the garage. The big pieces had all been previously painted bright green on one side fro some mysterious reason, but that was no problem. He just carefully worked all of his patterns out so that he used only the front, clean sides.

I don’t recall how long my dad labored on this project. He was pretty skilled at such things, but it was a big enough job that it certainly took a week or more. Then finally the display was done. He hauled all the pieces out into the yard; secured them into place by sinking poles into the ground; arranged spotlights to illuminate it all in the Alabama night, and that evening he threw the switch.

And what to his wondering eyes should appear, but an eerily greenish herd of deer pulling what looked like a rapidly molding Santa and his sleigh. My father had not allowed for reflection. In the deep darkness, the bright lights bounced all around on the shiny painted deer, picking up not only the bright Christmas colors on the front, but also the sickly green hues from the back. As a result, everything glowed with…as Dickens might say…the light of a bad lobster in a basement.

We all laughed. My dad most of all. The display wasn’t what he’d intended, but the result was: Joy to the world.


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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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