Sunday, December 19, 2021




Wednesday, December 15, 2021



Back in 2006, when my husband retired, he began to slack off when it came to getting his hair cut, shaving and watching his diet. As a result, I ended up married to someone who resembled  Santa’s long-lost twin.

He, however, was in denial. As I sat looking at his nearly shoulder-length white hair, big bushy beard and expanding waistline one afternoon, I told him I felt as if I should change my name to Mrs. Claus.

“Don’t be silly,” he said. “This isn’t a 'Santa’ look! This is my Harley Davidson look!”

“But you don’t even own a Harley.  You don’t even own a bicycle!”

“Then call it my Jerry Garcia ‘Grateful Dead’ look.”

"Name one song by the Grateful Dead.”


Not long after that, my husband took me Christmas shopping at the mall... where something happened that made him think he just might bear some resemblance to the big guy from the North Pole after all.

Whenever we went to the mall, my husband always immediately plunked down on a bench and “people watched” while I shopped. He really enjoyed studying people, and could sit there and do it for hours. That worked out fine because I could shop for hours...even days.

Anyway, after I finished making my rounds of all of the stores, I returned to the bench where I’d left my husband, just in time to see a little girl who looked about four years old run up to him and say, “I want Barbie’s Dream House!”

My husband stared at her as if she’d just been beamed down from some distant planet. The little girl then tried to climb up beside him on the bench, but her mother rushed over and grabbed her.

“I want Barbie’s Dream House!” the girl repeated.

“I’m so sorry!” the mother said, red-faced. “She thinks you’re Santa Claus! I tried to stop her, but the minute she saw you, she got so excited she just dashed right over.”

I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. And all the way home, I teased my husband about being mistaken for Santa. I also had to throw in a smug “I told you so” every few minutes for effect.

He, however, seemed preoccupied. Finally, he said, “You know, I’ve heard that mall Santas and department-store Santas can make pretty good money. Maybe I should look into it as a part-time job for the holidays. I think it might be fun. And unlike a lot of the Santas, my beard is real. If the kids tug on it, it won’t come off!”

He was silent for a few seconds before he added, “Trouble is, though, my stomach’s getting so saggy, it rests on my thighs. I don’t even have a lap where the kids could sit.”

“They can always sit on your knee,” I said.

“Yeah, but I have bad arthritis in my knees,” he said. “So that might end up being painful.”

I was beginning to think he should look for a part-time job that was better suited for a mattress tester.

When we got home from the mall, he headed straight for the computer and looked up information about being a mall Santa. It was the first time he’d actually seemed enthused about anything (other than eating and sleeping) since his retirement.    

Twenty minutes later he turned off the computer. I couldn’t help but notice that his expression looked less than jolly-ish.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Did you find out you have to have a college degree in ‘ho-ho-ho-ing’ to qualify?”

He shook his head. “I never realized just how much work is involved in being a Santa. I mean, it always looked like nothing but fun to me. But did you know they have to have at least three extra Santa suits ready at all times because so many kids get nervous on Santa’s lap and have accidents? And I’m talking about accidents from both ends!”

The visions that popped into my head weren’t exactly festive ones.

“And then there are the bruises from being kicked so much,” he added. “They showed a photo online of this one guy’s legs after less than a week of being Santa. They had so many black-and-blue marks on them, he looked like a Dalmatian!”

“So I guess this means you’re going to cut your hair and shave your beard now that your career plans have been dashed?” I asked.

“I’ll think about it,” he said.

I actually got my hopes up, thinking I’d finally be able to see his face and his ears once again.

But as luck would have it, a few days later we stopped at our local gas station. Our mechanic greeted us, then said to my husband, “You know something? You look really cool with your beard and long hair. I like it!”

That ended that. My husband decided to treat razors and clippers as if they were carriers of the plague.

But after a while, he finally stopped resembling jolly Old Saint Nick.

Yep. He looked more like Father Time.


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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at:

Monday, December 6, 2021


 I’m no Scrooge by any means, but over the years, the words “Christmas tree” have come to have about the same effect on me as the words “that tooth needs to be extracted.”

That’s because every year without fail, something goes terribly wrong when I attempt to set up and decorate my tree. This year, I’d planned to be different and instead of going through the torture of searching, finding and then chopping down a suitable tree on my land (which always has led to certain disaster in the past), I actually would splurge and buy a fresh, perfectly shaped, already cut tree.

Then I heard on the news that due to problems with everything from adverse weather conditions to the pandemic, live trees this year were going to be in short supply and require a home-equity loan to purchase.

So, having a very limited budget (like about $10), last week I dressed for winter in bright red (so a deer hunter wouldn’t accidentally shoot me) and headed out to the back forty (better known as my eight acres of land) to search for a Christmas tree. 

Never have I seen a scrawnier bunch of competitors. Some of them were so bad, they made Charlie Brown’s tree look like the one at Rockefeller Center in comparison.

I walked and walked…and then stopped to pick at least five ticks off my pants, which upset me. I mean, I’d been under the misconception that the little vampires disappeared after the first hard frost of the season. But the ones attached to my pants obviously hadn’t received that memo.

Suddenly, there, to my right, I spotted a fir tree that didn’t look as if it had been on a starvation diet for months. It wasn’t as full as I’d have liked, but it was full enough to suffice. And even though it wasn't perfectly shaped and the back of it, upon closer inspection, was…well, missing…I figured I could stand it in the corner and no one would know the difference.

So I removed my trusty folding saw from my pocket and sawed down the tree. Then I grabbed it by its trunk and headed back toward home.

That’s when I realized that during the process of intensely searching for a tree, I’d wandered off my land. The tree I was carrying had been growing on someone else’s property.

A sense of panic overcame me. Just about everyone has surveillance equipment nowadays, so I felt certain that I, conspicuously visible in all of my red-clothed glory, had been captured on camera as I’d gleefully hacked down someone else’s tree. When I took a long look at my surroundings, however, there wasn’t a house visible anywhere nearby – just forest, so that eased my anxiety a little.

But what, I wondered, was I supposed to do? Go nail the tree back onto its stump?  No, the crime already had been committed. So I carried the tree home.

And then I waited for the police to come knocking on my door.

I figured if they did, I would tell them it was an honest mistake and the owner of the land could come onto my land and dig up as many trees as he wanted and replant them to replace the one I’d taken down. And then I’d throw myself at the police officers' mercy.

But no one showed up.

So this past weekend I set up the “tree of crime” and prepared to decorate it. I took boxes of decorations out of the closet and sorted through them. The first thing I did was test the strings of mini-lights. Two strings lit. Two didn’t. That meant that probably one bulb was burnt out on each one, which would require hours of testing to find the culprits. But I’ve never been a patient person, so I drove to the nearest store and bought a string of 250 lights.

When I returned home and opened the box, I was disappointed to discover that the lights were strung on white cords. White? All of the lights I’d ever owned had been on green cords, which nicely blended with the color of the tree and became invisible. White would show every flaw in my decorating skills, like when I loop the lights over random branches and then loop them in another direction or zigzag them to fill in the spots I missed.

All I could think about was how the white cords would end up looking as if I’d flung a pot of plain, boiled spaghetti onto the tree. 

So I ventured down into the dungeon known as my basement and dug out a long-forgotten dusty old trunk of Christmas decorations from my former residence. In it, I found a couple more sets of lights…strung on green cords. Even better, the relics still worked.

I soon realized that decorating a tree that had no branches in the back meant the combined weight of all of the decorations and lights was going to be in the front. Sure enough, as I placed each decoration onto a branch, the tree began to lean forward a little more. When I finally finished decorating, I stood back to admire my work.  I saw one spot on the tree that looked conspicuously naked, so I grabbed a glittery ornament and hung it there.

Well, that ornament turned out to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I heard a creaking noise, and the next thing I knew, the tree was tumbling forward. I grabbed it and shoved it back toward the corner, but not before the lights were hanging off their branches and several ornaments had crashed to the floor. The glass remnants were surrounded by water that had spilled from the tree stand.

I couldn’t see the small shards of glass on the floor in that dark corner, so I turned on the overhead light, one I rarely use  a combination light and ceiling fan. When the light popped on, it silhouetted the inside of the glass bowl covering the bulbs and highlighted what looked like 10 years’ worth of dust clumps – which they probably were, considering I’d never climbed up there before to dust anything.

I have no clue what compelled me to do so, but I finally decided the time had come to get up there and clean the light. I grabbed a dust rag and a kitchen chair and then stood on the chair and stared at the light’s glass bowl. Two pull-chains were hanging through holes in the center of it. In the past, when other ceiling lights had needed either interior dusting or new bulbs, I’d unscrewed the bowls from the ceiling. But I had no clue how to unscrew this one. 

Still, in a moment of complete dumbness, I tried to unscrew it – not by removing little pins or clamps to loosen the bowl, because this light didn’t have any – but by turning the entire bowl to the left (“lefty-loosey, righty-tighty”). I heard a grinding sound and the light went dark.

“Nooooo!” I cried. “I broke it!  I’ll have to buy a new ceiling fan and call an electrician to install it, and I’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars! Why did I try to dust it? Why?”  

I pulled both of the chains. Nothing happened. Then I tried twisting the bowl back to the right; back to the starting point. When I did, both the light and the fan popped on…and startled me so much (especially the fan zooming around so close to my head), I nearly fell off the chair.

Alas, the dust clumps are still in the bowl. But at least the fan and light both are working now...and I’m never going to attempt to clean either one again.

After I wiped up the mess on the floor, I knelt down and tightened the stand’s screws into the tree’s trunk so it tilted back a little, rather than forward. As far as redecorating the tree, I didn’t bother to strategically place each light and decoration evenly and symmetrically as I’d originally done. No, I held my breath and just shoved everything back onto the branches, any branches. As long as the ornaments didn't fall off or cause the tree to wobble, that was fine with me. To heck with symmetry.

And starting right now, I think I’m going to set aside a little money every week so I actually can purchase a nice tree next year.

Meanwhile, I still have the uneasy feeling that this one might be confiscated and used as Exhibit-A in court.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: