As Christmas approached in 1964, I got a call from the staff of the Evergreen Bark, the newspaper of Evergreen High School in Vancouver, asking me if I would write something about Christmas, a "Guest Editorial" for their newspaper. I agreed and then promptly forgot all about doing it until "Secretary Mary" came into the control room and told me the kids from Evergreen High School needed to pick up my "Christmas Message" TOMORROW !!
Naturally panic ensued, but for only a moment or two, when I thought Bill Howlett might bail me out. Actually, I KNEW Bill would bail me out since he was that kind of person, a good friend and I knew what a wonderful writer Bill was from the features he had written for the show over the 4 1/2 years we'd worked together.
I called him at the transmitter and explained my dilemma and could he write something for me that evening and then to really impose on him, could he bring it downtown* to the studio so I could leave it to be picked up. He said he would.
The following is what he wrote between newscasts. The kids got a much better "Christmas Message" from Bill Howlett than they ever would have from me.
I read this on my 1964 Christmas Eve show on KISN and on shows in various cities for years afterwards. I told Bill I was using his Christmas Message and he liked that. In recent years I read it on shows on the Internet and satellite, so Bill's Christmas Message gained a much larger audience than the readers of The Evergreen Bark and KISN listeners back in 1964.
Here is what Bill wrote all those Christmases' ago.....
There's something special about Christmas...even more than the vacation to catch up on your loafing and the goodies under the tree.
Christmas means different things to different people.
To the mailman. it means thousands of packages with insufficient postage, addressed mostly in Egyptian hieroglyphics with a dull pencil and a 65 pound bag to carry on his 12 mile walk through the rain.
To the gift shop proprietor, it's something that should happen 6 or 8 times a year.
To the toy-wholesaler, it's a hassle that started last March and wound up just before Halloween.
To the airlines, it's a mad scramble to get everybody on the 5:15 flight Christmas Eve.
To the traffic policeman, it's millions of motorists trying to get home at 70 miles an hour and two cars ahead of everybody else.
To Dad, it's that wild period of deficit spending between back-to-school expenses and income tax filing time.
To the long distance phone operator, it's her switchboard lighted up brighter than the tree down in the lobby.
To the average shopper, it's trying to find that last minute gift that LOOKS expensive, with the store shelves looking a little sparse and 1100 other shoppers with the same idea.
To the small fry, it's that long, L-O-N-G four weeks after Thanksgiving, where the weeks have 11 days in them at least...
To the pastor of your church, it's just the beginning and he wishes you'd come back often and hear the whole story.
To the old gentleman in the red suit and whiskers, with the eight reindeer transport, it's a problem in navigation, logistics, bookkeeping and parking spaces.
But to most of us, it's that special season of smiles and surprises----getting together with friends and renewing old acquaintances. It's a time of peace and promise and the wonderful joy of giving.
Merry Christmas to you all.
* At least I did buy Bill breakfast at The Jolly Joan to thank him for writing and delivering his Christmas Message.