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John Howell’s Column

Busy with births, cookies, candy, etc.

I thought I might use this space to offer tips to readers on how to survive until December 26.

I find myself uniquely unqualified.

There’s the food. People keep bringing food to this office. Sweet food. Candy and fudge and brownies and peanut butter/chocolate stuff in such quantity and variety that I suspect there’s a Freudian-slip death wish out there.

My willpower lasts some days until 4 p.m. Then, facing another two to four hours’ work to meet the holiday deadlines we have imposed on ourselves, I dive in for a sugar fix, usually with coffee, Splenda and that imitation powder cream we keep around here.

Thirty minutes later, my system tells me I have overdosed on sugar. Again. The following day I will not have learned my lesson.

Today I will go and buy a plate of fruit and vegetables and place it between me and all that sweet stuff. Maybe the substitute will distract me before I get to the killer food.

Meanwhile, this office is being blessed with a population explosion in its extended family.

First there was little William Jackson Davis who arrived in October courtesy of staff writer Billy Davis and his wife, Shannon. Little Jackson’s first few weeks on this side of the womb have occasionally proved trying to his parents and grandparents whose success at calming his crying bouts have occasionally been limited.

One of my children (David) was like that. I told Billy that once when he was walking around this office looking rather shell-shocked. Then I remembered how little consolation such a remark can be to one in the midst of parenting trenches from one a generation removed.

But Jackson is thriving. I remembered that also — the kid crying like something was terribly wrong but growing and developing like everything was okay. And it is.

This edition carries the announcement of the second recent addition to our extended newspaper family. Bailey Brice Williams arrived Tuesday courtesy of staff/writer Emily Williams and Jeremy. You’ll find the particulars on page B2. Baby, mom and dad are all doing well, according to this morning’s report.

These two completed pregnancies will hopefully have prepared us for the more difficult delivery that lies ahead. Sports editor Myra Bean will soon become a grandmother. Watching expectant moms and dads gear up to prepare for their new charges has been interesting. Watching an expectant grandmother prepare for her new challenge has been witness to hyperdrive. We’re pretty confident that mom Danielle and dad Marlon can cope. We’re just not sure that Myra can keep up the pace she’s set for herself.

Of course, we haven’t been much help to Myra around the office, piling on extra duties in the absence of an ailing staff member, Cassie White, very much missed not only for the share of the workload she carries but also for her comforting competence and cooperative spirit.

We are fond of saying in this business that after such-and-such a thing, we are going to have a “normal week.” We know better, of course.

But at some point we will get through this current birthing cycle and illness only to find new challenges awaiting.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas. Here’s hoping you can figure out on your own how to survive until December 26.