December 24th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Letters to the President #1435: 'Christmas Eve'

Reporter's Note:  I write to President Obama every day. Even on Christmas Eve.

Dear Mr. President,

It is a peculiarity of the news business that I have worked a great many Christmas Eves and Christmas Days. Not so much now, but certainly in my younger days. Actually, I worked the first ten Christmases of my TV career.

Oddly enough, in a strange way I came to enjoy it. I liked going around to cover news events which largely consisted of happy events; public caroling, big parties that were somehow newsworthy, parades, celebrations, church services. It was nice. At the same time, I enjoyed the solitude of leaving those events when I was done, sharing the camaraderie of the newsroom and all my colleagues who were in the same fix, and finally driving home in the evening amid all the glowing lights, knowing that people were tired, happy, and contented…enjoying each other’s company, and perhaps some leftovers.

In retrospect, I don’t know why it didn’t make me sad, but it did not. Usually, I would make my way back to my apartment, open a few presents, make a few phone calls, and sometimes take in a movie. One year it was “Fanny and Alexander” by Bergman at the Prytania Theater in New Orleans. That was great.

But sometimes I also managed to slip away on Christmas Eve when work was done to drive to my parents’ home so that I could enjoy Christmas morning before rushing back to work that day.

One time in particular, I recall finishing my shift, helping put away my camera and close up my desk, and then taking off through the Alabama night to reach their home. Mile after mile I sped along, cruising quietly through the little towns where church services were already done for the evening and children were most certainly being herded off the bed. I passed remote, rural homes where lights twinkled in the distance. A friend had sent a mix tape to me that I was listening to on a Walkman (yes, this was quite some time back,) and it was the first time I heard the Pretenders do “2000 Miles.” Magnificent. I listened over and over as I drove on and on, and stars filled the sky. As Dickens would say “there was nothing of high mark in this” it was simply, in every way, a magical moment…one of the most peaceful I’ve ever known.

Anyway, it is on my mind amid the bustle of my final Christmas preparations, and I hope you are enjoying such a feeling of peace on this Christmas Eve.


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