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The Day Before Christmas
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It's the day before Christmas. When I was a kid December 24 was more exciting than December 25. My anticipation had reached its zenith. My brain was filled with wild hopes that couldn't possibly be satisfied by the reality beneath the tree the next morning.

Since I stopped believing in magical deliveries from the North Pole, the day before just hasn't been as thrilling. A few years ago an onrushing snowstorm forced me to race out into traffic and crowds to stock up on groceries. That was more excitement than I needed.

In some places, it's traditional to exchange gifts Christmas Eve and I've received one of my worst gifts, and one of my best, the day before.

It was the day before Christmas, during the Vietnam war, that my draft notice arrived. Since I couldn't see past the end of my snub nose and was fifty pounds underweight, I had no expectation I'd be found physically fit enough to be shot or blown apart in the jungles of Southeast Asia. (And I wasn't) Nevertheless, feeling Uncle Sam's cold breath on my neck wasn't exactly what I'd asked Santa for. That was one greeting that didn't get to sit on the mantelpiece.

In contrast, was the surprise addressed to both Mary and myself. After spending most of our lives writing, we'd finally, that summer, sold a book. The publication process was creeping along, but during the evening of December 24 there arrived attached to an email from Poisoned Pen Press a jpg file -- the never before glimpsed cover of One For Sorrow, our very first novel!

I'm hoping if this Christmas Eve brings anything, it'll be something along those lines.

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