Dear Friend of Frank,
It's that time of year. The cards are arriving, setting off the usual feelings of warmth and love, confusion and guilt.
Let's start with the negatives.
"Confusion"? Sure. I'm Jewish. Why am I receiving Christmas cards? It's a stupid question--the senders probably don't care whether or not I'm Jewish and may not even know it--but it keeps popping into my atavistic mind ... which often seems to be run by a little demon-from-childhood called Frankie Jober.
Stick around, Jober. You may have more to say before I'm finished.
Maybe they're sending the cards to my wife, who's not Jewish. That would at least explain the one from her oldest brother. But it wouldn't explain why they all come addressed to "Frank and Carol."
Next "guilt". Well yeah guilt. Neither Carol nor I send cards at the holidays, nor have we ever. But not sending cards to friends and family, who've taken the time and trouble to send them to us, sets demonic little Frankie Jober to whispering that there's a quid pro quo at work, and I am the party at fault for not holding up my end.
[But suppose there is a quid pro quo? That would explain why here we are, only a few days before Xmas, and four mere cards have arrived. Seems folks are striking you from their lists, sneers nasty Frankie Jober.]
But this isn't only about confusion, guilt, and other dark feelings evoked by this often nerve-wracking time of year (for everyone, not just me). It's about warmth and love too.
Take this card.
It was the first one received. It's a photo of the Dill family of Fargo ND, all 23 of 'em, with dear Marie in the foreground. "This picture was taken at my granddaughter Sarah's wedding on 7-2-22," Marie writes on the back. "I'm the gray-haired lady next to the bride☺."
I felt a rush of love when I read this.
I've known Marie since I was 24. She was the secretary (that's what we called them then) to Al Orton, chief of the Chicago bureau of The Associated Press. Marie was to marry night city editor W.J. "Joe" Dill, one of the great mentors and good friends of my life. We--me, Marie and Joe--were to spend many happy, sometimes boozy nights together in those magical times.
Joe and Marie eventually wound up in Fargo where Joe became editor of the Forum, the largest-circulation daily paper between the Twin Cities and the West Coast (as Joe liked to remind folks).
Joe was a big fish--a very big fish--in a small pond. As a Southern Illinois boy (Carmi, 2010 pop. 5,240), that was just how Joe liked it.
Joe died at age 63. I think of him all the time, as I do of Bill Rieder and Geoff Metcalfe and Harry Spurrier and Dave McIntyre and my poor nephew Mike Thompson and his poor dad Tom and my mom Marj and my dad Irv and Dora Winfield and ... and even forlorn little Frankie Jober, who no matter how old I get, just won't let me alone.
Merry X, everyone. Happy N too.
Frank S Joseph Author
P.S. Speaking of warmth and love, last week I received the following gift from a person I didn't even know, a neighbor named Lynn Connor. Lynn has given me permission to quote, so here it is without a comma changed:
"Last Friday I was in the Little Falls library quiet room and unable to focus on what I was doing. So I turned to the nearby shelves and pulled a book out at random. To Love Mercy. Set in Chicago, I couldn't resist (I grew up in Evanston and lived in Hyde Park for five years) and started reading. That was the end of what I started out to do last Friday. Wonderful book!"
Lynn, deepest thanks. I still have copies of Mercy (the 2006 edition published by Mid Atlantic Highlands, not the republication pending from Touchpoint Press). An autographed copy is available FREE, Dear Reader. All I ask is to consider posting a review if you like the book. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org ... and Happy You Know What.
(c) 2022, Frank S Joseph Author