NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1990

Yes, I know - yet another single column for an entire year!

Again, all these missing columns are indeed here, they are simply residing in the year they were expanded and revised. I had sworn, back in these early years, to return to them and do just that - at the time the possibilities of the coming internet hadn't dawned on me, and I assumed they would come out in a series of books, or something.

To be able to get them all up for the world to see in these archives is a happy state of affairs indeed.

Anyway, 1990 found us still bimonthly.

For January / February I returned to Southern California folklore and gave you the tale of the Phantom Ship of the Salton Sea. I liked that story a lot, and put it online in September 1999.

In March / April I managed to devote an entire page to essentially nothing. I had wanted for some time to expound a bit on what I considered fair game for folklore columns, something I hadn't really had the space to do without devoting an entire column to it. We were, as you know, constrained by the limitations of the printed page.

Now, of course, we have been online nearly six years, and looking back on that March / April 1990 column I can categorically state that I've made a better case for what I'm trying to accomplish here many, many times. So, that column is obsolete, and unnecessary.

May / June 1990 almost made it here, but I wanted a fast column online last month so I shamelessly stole it and put it up - when archived, you'll find my little treatise on Mermaids in May 2003.

We then come to July. It was originally to be a simple bimonthly issue, but come September both Mike and I moved, so the July / August issue became in reality the July / August / September / October issue!

Sadly, this issue is currently missing (when I refer to an issue as "missing", I mean that neither I, Mom, Mike or Dan have been able to locate a copy). My best guess as to the column's contents, however, is that I delved into the tale of Shirley Jackson, and the eerie occurrences that caused her to write "The Haunting of Hill House". Assuming that to be the case, I thankfully did reprint (and greatly expand) the story in September / October '98, which is where you'll find it.

And so we come again to the Holiday Season, and I had a good one all ready to go for this Christmas column. It would later be reprinted for the print only newsletter in December '99, but has never appeared online until now.

Christmas time again! Time when all animals gain the power of speech (Christmas Eve - but not if there are witnesses) and when babies born on the 25th are born immune to ghosts.

Mostly, though, a time for stories. In keeping with an old Book Again tradition, I offer the following Holiday Tale - a little something for you to ponder as you settle down for your own "long winter naps", or muse over days of yore while roasting chestnuts . . .

Yet Another Christmas Tale

 

Once upon a time, long, long ago (isn't it always that way?), there lived a wise and respected gentleman. He lived in a small town somewhere in that region where all good stories come from, Long Ago and Far Away.

He himself, because of his occupation and standing in the community, had become a man of some means. There were many in this town, however, who were not so fortunate. Many families in this town lived little better than peasants (actually, they probably were peasants, now that I think of it), and had to suffer and slave for every bit of sustenance.

Now it happened that one such family had reached the end of its rope - they had no money, and no food. Had it just been the father and mother perhaps they could have gotten by, but this couple had three daughters as well

As Christmas time approached (which, in addition to being a time for celebrating, is also the beginning of the coldest time of the year), the father had come to a horrible yet unavoidable decision - he would have to sell his daughters into slavery to remove the family's debts.

(Now, I realize that people don't much do things like this anymore, but you must remember that we are talking about something that happened a long time ago - besides, if he didn't decide to do this there would be no story!)

At any rate, it was a sorrowful family indeed which made ready for bed on Christmas Eve. The thin walls of the family cottage could not keep out the cold winter winds, and it gave each of them an extra chill to hear the mournful howling of the wind as it blew through each room and down through the chimney, where the three daughters had hung their stockings to dry. (And any of you out there who have just figured out the rest of this story can leave the room if you must, but don't spoil it for the others!)

As you may have guessed, something happened that night.

Alone and unseen, when all was dark and quiet, the stately old gentleman I told you about crept into the house, and into each stocking he deposited a small ball about the size of a large grapefruit. He then quietly took his leave.

Now, this may seem a curious thing for the gentleman to have done, but the next morning the small cottage's roof nearly blew off from the tumult of surprise and disbelieving joy that emanated from the suddenly transformed family.

You see, each little ball was made of solid gold.

The gentleman, as you may have guessed, was a Russian Bishop who would later be remembered as Saint Nicholas. The above is a true story.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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