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Christmas Hot, Christmas Cold

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Posted 12-03-2010 at 07:01 PM by Jeff Westover
Updated 12-03-2010 at 07:05 PM by Jeff Westover

I swore that one of these days I would post on this blog during the first week of December.

It might be considered a bit of a frivolous thing but honestly there is little time for much of anything for me during this time of the year.

Things are about as white-hot as they come.

You can blame it on the seasonality of it all -- for the rest of the world. While we pay attention to Christmas year round here and a great many do with us the vast masses "out there" do not and when they come around right after Thanksgiving they overwhelm us.

Case in point -- last month at this time I was receiving about 200 different pieces of email, private messages and phone calls a day all associated with MMC in some way. And that's a high, high level compared to our low for the year in April, when I get maybe a dozen a day.

This week, it is between 3000 and 4000 per day.

Seriously.

And they run the gamut. Most are, sadly, garden variety contacts. "I lost my password", "Where do I find...?" or "Do you have any articles on Christmas pudding?" (a lot on that one this year, oddly).

Then there are the ones that gall me. Usually the worst of these are from business interests -- those who want to spam our forums especially or to get links or ads for nothing because, doggoneit, their ad or product or website is indispensible for the Christmas world. Even though we have a separate website dedicated to answering all their possible questions they still have to call or email "for just a minute of your time".

Then there are the folks who contact us as if we are the Salvation Army. They need things. They are unemployed, broke and desparate. Or so many tell you.

I don't mean to sound cold hearted about it but they come in such volume that it makes you wonder.

We learned years ago to use a process to find out which are legitimate. It is very highly effective in getting down to reality and most who don't get through the questionaire abandon the request and we never hear from them again. (A few will rail on us for being nosy but, honestly, every charitable organization has a vetting process of some sort and the one we use we set up on the advice of a local food pantry. They assure us we shouldn't feel guilty by those who abuse us -- just because they are desparate doesn't mean they shouldn't be polite and patient and if their needs are real they will work with us rather than condemn us). We utilize a couple of resources we have built over the years to get the legitimate ones help from local sources -- but we could always use more information as those needs are tremendously great.

We also field thousands of inquiries for Santa Claus, a job that is both merry and rewarding -- and that carries with it some measure of holiday heartbreak.

Behind the scenes there is a crew I employ here in Utah who work from their own computers in their own home offices dealing with the issues of contact with My Merry Christmas. They are students, teens, Moms and personal friends who are only too happy to help out.

And out front is our year round Christmas Crew, who are on the forums out of their love of Christmas (which is code for the fact that I'm not paying them anything). They are the eyes online and they do a great job of catching things that come up that shouldn't.

The volume of things is so great I have to extend a lot more trust to them this time of year to make decisions because, frankly, there just aren't the hours in the day for me to have a say in everything that goes on right now.

Some of it is a lot of fun though.

The first week of December is when we get a lot of calls from the media. I've spent a lot of time on the phone this week doing radio interviews, question-and-answers with newspaper reporters and impromptu contacts with television reporters. Almost always it is from small market areas, where editors actually still try to maintain some control of what is put out there. Despite the bally-hooed and false war on Christmas the media still does a really good job of covering it and extending it out and I like talking to them.

But for as busy as it all is I know that come December 26th it all goes away...until the slow build starts somewhere around Mother's Day.

I feel a lot, I suppose, like the Ghost of Christmas Present. I'm big and full of life in one moment and small and old the next.

Between it all is the steady, every day contact I get to have with those of our own community here. I try to get on the forums where I can this time of year but honestly, I can't. I'm sorry I miss Christmasing so much with you during these times.

And I'm sorry if you've sent me a PM or an email and I haven't answered you. I know there are some of you out there who have tried. Most of the year, while I may be a little late, I do respond. I fear that during these hectic holiday weeks of December I'm hurting feelings and that is something I never really want to do.

This year has been especially gratifying because, well, I'm unemployed. I have more time to devote to this than ever before and I am honestly having the time of my life.

The Merry Podcast has been a ton of fun and playing DJ on Merry Christmas Radio is a little like getting a toy train as an adult for Christmas. It has been so much fun for me.

But I have honestly learned a lot this season that I cannot wait to share with you after all the noise and the bustle dies down.

For years -- well, since the beginning -- I've done this only on the side. This is the first season ever when I've been here almost all the time. And it is humbling to see what goes on during this time of the year when I have typically only been able to devote just a couple hours a day from a laptop on a hotel Internet connection to check in on things.

Not only is it humbling it is frustrating. But it is a good thing.

A reporter asked me this week if we've covered it all here at My Merry Christmas. And the answer is "of course not". We will never cover it all. Christmas might blow hot and cold for some, as the numbers of our contacts indicate.

But it is bigger than we are. It always has been and always will be.
Total Comments 2

Comments

  1. Old Comment
    RadioJonD's Avatar
    Thank you, Jeff for being a Christmas visionary and for allowing us a look into the Yule World as well!

    I often wonder how MMC & the Merry Network have evolved in your expectations. Could you have ever seen this far? Thanks for the insight as we look forward to the future!
    Posted 12-04-2010 at 04:44 AM by RadioJonD RadioJonD is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Jeff Westover's Avatar
    With our accidental beginnings and on-the-fly hobbyist evolution expectations are kind of a strong word. Maybe "hope" is better suited in this context. I certainly have more of a vision now than I did before. I just wanted to keep it going because of the very personal rewards of meeting people and enjoying their celebrations of Christmas. The stories I can tell! It has been so richly rewarding for me in that respect.

    My expectations now? Welll, I suppose that's evolving too. There is still much I dream about.
    Posted 12-06-2010 at 12:24 AM by Jeff Westover Jeff Westover is offline
 
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