Merry (read this) Christmas! - Rob Felt

What type of newspaper column would someone want to read on Christmas? I asked myself this question Tuesday afternoon, while facing a deadline and a room full of food at the office holiday party. Get those keys clicking, I told myself, there's food to eat!

Political opinions, cynical criticisms of modern culture and chirpy "get a load of this?" wacky news columns seem inappropriate today. I tried to summon up a dramatic essay that drilled through the candy coating to the true heart of Christmas but that seemed too much.

If you haven't set the paper down to fetch some more eggnog and sugared ham yet here's what I've got for you – a collection of random observations on the Christmas season.

No matter how long the lines have been at every single store in every single mall since Thanksgiving, the retail sales for Christmas will fall below their projected levels. This never fails. Who makes these projections? It seems to me that the real news here is what a terrible job these people do at predicting the numbers.

Do not serve eggnog without first sprinkling nutmeg on top, and leave the liquor on the shelf: this is a family beverage. Upper class Englishmen used to drink the mixture with brandy or sherry, but were forced to adapt to rum when pirates ran ashore in 1847, looting London and making Big Ben a monkey conservatory. Sorry, too much eggnog.

People love photos of their children on Santa's lap or dressed to their holiday best for the mantle on Christmas. These festive snaps can be out-cuted, though. Oh yes, I've seen it. The current trend for "Awww" photography in the month of December is pets with Santa. Who can hold back expressions of melting adoration when faced with Mr. Little Doggy clad in reindeer antlers cocking his head at you from Santa's lap? None among us.

In a related matter I've found that some contact with cats and discarded wrapping paper on Christmas morning will generally make for more holiday cheer. Throw in some catnip, ribbon and package tie-ons for explosive fun while kicking back and enjoying your bounty.

Throw away all paper and ornamental package attachments after they have been used once. Too much wrapper recycling leads to an incestuous pile of presents under the tree. "Didn't I give you this same golden pinecone last year on the bread maker?" Yes, you did.

Last, but not least: take the decorations down before spring! I'll give you Jan. 14 as a cutoff date, and anyone with lights on their house after that will be considered eligible for the looting of those decorations. If it's Jan. 15 and I see some beautiful blue twinkle lights you'll see the flash of headlights in your window followed by the rustle of branches and the squeal of tires.

Well that's that. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Christmas readers and wish them a wonderful day with friends and family. I'll be in Ohio today, eating platefuls of ham and my grandmother's cookies and fruitcake.

Even though I'm a Yankee who holds firm that Christmas cannot exist without snow, you'll note that the Christmas spirit stopped me short of mentioning that sensitive point. Sorry, too much eggnog.

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.