‘Twas the day before Christmas, and here’s a news flash

The Bulletin staff was missing one, namely Steve Nash.

Yes, the cat juggler’s vacationing at his south Brownwood home,

not owning a GPS system, he’s afraid far to roam.

And back in the newsroom, with work piling high,

Editor Gene Deason let out a big sigh.

“Looks like there’s stories for pages one, two and three,

But I’ve really ‘got nuthin’ where Steve’s column should be.”

“What?” cried C. Fulton, though it had happened before,

“What will his fans say, if he’s not there any more?

“So carefully they’ve been cultivated, 1 through 42,

“And if he’s missing before Christmas, will they know what to do?”

“They’ll adjust,” said Deason. “A vacation’s no disgrace.

“But look at this page – the top’s all white space.”

“Maybe we can fix it,” he heard Fulton cry.

“Let’s give it a go, Gene. At least we can try.”

She went to the keyboard, and typed in quick clatter,

The words were all nonsense, but it didn’t matter.

For Christmas was coming, and would be here soon,

If she hurried, she thought, she’d have the job done by noon.

“Look,” she announced, quite exasperated,

“a good column topic’s way overrated.

“Steve waits and he worries and he wants our suggestions,

“while he juggles cats, and calls Johnsons to ask a few

questions.”

“If we do it like he does, I’ll bet we’ll get finished,

“and be home for the holiday, our sanity undiminished.

“We’ll make up our own words, like ‘hah skewl’ and ‘yoot,’

“Steve’s fans will all read it and think it’s a hoot.”

By now Fulton knew the cat juggler’s repertoire,

and she wrote it in verse, with few facts in the score.

But without those stories, there’s not much to write,

The humor seems lost, the analogies too trite.

“If Steve were here,” she wondered, “what would he say?

“Would he wax philosophical about Christmas Day?”

“I hardly think so,” Deason admitted,

“With the Christmas spirit, he’s not been outfitted.”

“But he’s not a grinch, either. He’s not green, and we don’t call him Harry –

“Though his pay check’s made out to some guy named Larry.”

“He’s not a doctor,” said Deason, “and doesn’t play one on TV,

“Who he is really, I guess, is a big mystery.”

“I remember last year,” said Fulton, “when column ideas he asked for,

“And when we gave him a dozen, he asked for 12 more.”

“Right,” said Deason. “We waited and waited.

“A truly great column, we all anticipated.”

“Did that happen? It certainly did not.

“When I read it, I asked him, ‘Steve, is that all you’ve got?’”

“And what happens this year?” Fulton asked, looking around.

“We’ve got the same space and he’s nowhere to be found.”

“Steve’s no Santa Claus, I’ll give him that –

“He’s just a guy who likes to juggle cats.

“But if he were here, and this were done,

“We could all go home and have our own fun.”

“You know, though,” said Fulton, “for as long as we’ve been sittin’,

“The stuff we’re writing, isn’t really fittin’.”

“It’s not easy bein’ Steve,” said Deason, “just tryin’ to get through,

“But I tell you for sure, I don’t know what we’ll do.”

“I’ve got Steve’s number,” said Fulton. “I’ll give him a call,

“I’ll say I need something, we’ve got nothing at all.

“I know, I know, he’ll say he can’t help with the work.

“Then I’ll just hang up. He’ll think we’re berserk.”

In Nash’s shirt pocket, sounded a ring-a-ling, ling,

“I wonder who that could be,” his kids heard him sing.

“You rang?” he said, when he answered the phone,

“Look Steve,” said Fulton, “we’re here all alone.

“For a column, we ‘got nuthin’ and on the page ‘round your face,

“I tell you for sure, it’s only white space.”

“I see,” said the cat juggler, since his glasses, he was wearing.

“You’ve ‘got nuthin’ where my pic will be appearing?”

“Oh no,” said Fulton, “Gene’s going to run my pic,

“a few words from you will just do the trick.”

“I see,” he repeated, “that’s the reason for this call?

“D’uh… how’s about simply, ‘Merry Christmas to all’?”

“Why, Steve,” we wondered, “Did we really hear,

an ever-small hint of true Christmas cheer?”

We certainly did, and it filled the page tight –

Or will, once we add, “to all a good night.”

Candace Cooksey Fulton’s “real” column runs on Sundays, but she’s filling in for the vacationing Steve Nash today. Assuming he can think of an idea, Nash’s column will return next Thursday.