And from our readers ….

My Christmas column last week stirred up some memories for a few of our readers. So I’ll let them have the (needle-covered) floor.

Here are Sally Derengoski’s holiday favorites:

— Movies:  “The Bishop’s Wife” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

— Religious hymns:  “Silent Night,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

— Festive songs: “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and “The Christmas Song.”

Because I wrote about my preference for multi-colored lights, Sally said that I could come sit by her and Annette’s eight-foot live tree with old-fashioned colored C7 bulbs. “Might be the last year. Thinking of finally switching to LEDs next year.”

She said my wife could go downstairs and enjoy their all-white lights — her choice — on the up-year-round sports tree.

I’m assuming the cocoa and cookies will be upstairs.


Pam Maxwell wrote that she gets the chills every time she listens to the musical group Pentatonix sing, “Mary, Have You Heard?”

I’ll admit that I never heard of Pentatonix, an a cappella group from Arlington, Texas, but they knocked my socks off with the Mary song. I think it’s gong to be one of my favorites at Christmas, too.

Ironically, just as I wrote the above, Pentatonix came on Pandora singing “The First Noel.” Wow!


Pam Ogren shares my love for Chocolate Charlie, a treat of roasted peanuts and marshmallow covered by milk chocolate and made by Claeys Candy in South Bend.

“I don’t buy any until the day before Christmas Eve,” Pam says

“A couple years ago, (husband) Marty bought me a box right after Thanksgiving.

The next morning he said, ‘I think we need to call the police …someone must have broken in and eaten half the box.’”

I’m sure I have an alibi, Pam.


Regular contributor Scott Dunham has his opinions on everything Christmas:

“I am a white Christmas light person. It’s what I grew up with. Who knows, maybe colored Christmas lights may not have been invented when I was growing up. Our family tree decorating disagreements were about tinsel and family heirloom strings of wooden beads. We settled the disagreements by altering the years we used them.

“My go-to Christmas album is Bing Crosby’s “Merry Christmas.” I cannot remember a Christmas without it. My first year at I.U., I purchased the LP so I would have it for my dorm room record player. The songs on the album run the gamut from sacred to silly and I love them all. Bing’s dueting with the Andrew Sisters is wonderful. My recent discovery of a favorite Christmas album is “Spirit of the Season” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (2007). In particular, “Wexford Carol” and guest singer Sissel’s  “In the Bleak Midwinter.” And contemporary favorites are Elton John’s “Step into Christmas” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Harry Connick, Jr. and Amy Grant were Christmas favorites in our house when our kids were growing up.

“My favorite Christmas movies are “It’s a Wonderful Life” (I watch it on NBC on Christmas ever every year in between Christmas Eve services) and “A Christmas Story.” “A Christmas Story” came out when I was in college, and I was supposed to go see it with a young lady I fancied. She stood me up and I didn’t see it until years later. Although it’s set in the 1950s (a bit before my time), a lot of it rings true to my formative years: School bullies, friends who dared you to do foolish things, and the anticipation (and sometimes disappointments) of Christmas Day. Plus my dad was very much like the dad in the movie, with his sayings like “Dadgummit” and “Handsome Dan Magrew.” I also love various iterations of “A Christmas Carol.” If you haven’t read the full version of Charles Dickens’ book, I highly recommend it.”

Obviously, Scott is a man of the season.


Then my childish version of “We Three Kings of Orient Are/ Tried to Smoke a Loaded Cigar/ It Was Loaded/ And Exploded” reminded Jon Thompson of his own little explosion.

Take it away, J.T.:

“Bill…..Your ‘exploding cigar’ story reminded me of something I did to my brother, Peter, when I was about 12 or so.

“He had a stamp collection and was pouring over a new pile that he just received (probably hoping to find that ‘upside-down biplane’ that could put you on Easy Street).  Anyway, he smoked a pipe at the time, and I had a package of cigarette ‘loads’ from a joke shop.  Thinking that one wouldn’t be enough, I put two or three in his pipe.  I thought it would be just a tiny ‘poof,’ but the black cinders went all over, including on his pile of stamps.

“I don’t remember anything else that happened …”

Hmmm. I’m thinking J.T. might have gotten coal in his stocking that Christmas.  I may be getting some of that myself this season.

Merry Christmas, everybody.