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Piles of Christmas

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Posted 08-31-2011 at 10:41 AM by Jeff Westover

We work on Christmas year round. We plan our site features and do our upgrades during the "off" season. Of course, to us and to many of you who even venture so far as to read MMC blogs, we're here everyday and we celebrate Christmas every day.

But we know that come Labor Day we are pretty much done for the year with any kind of major remodel work or big projects. From Labor Day through Christmas Eve we roll out all the big projects we've been working on but for the most part the real work of that is all done.

Except for one thing -- and that's what the rest of the world is working on for Christmas.

Try as we might we just can't seem to get folks to tell us what they have coming out for Christmas until this time of the year. And this week it really started in earnest as book publishers, website operators, musicians and movie studios are all contacting us to see if they can share with the community here what they've got coming out.

Of course we're interested in this stuff. We're Christmas crazy, after all.

But why do they all have to wait until right now and want it all reviewed and posted right now?

I have little piles of Christmas 2011 stacked all over my desk. I have so far two books, a DVD, a Blu-Ray, four CDs, a strand of Christmas lights, a random box of Christmas cards, two types of recycled-material garlands (who else can say that they have that on their desk?) and one very interesting ornament.

And it isn't even Labor Day.

My kids, of course, love this. Whenever the mailman comes they are looking to see what Christmas thingy has come now.

It is, perhaps, an odd form of a Christmas countdown tradition for us and I fear they think this is normal and happens to every one. They know that summer is ending when Christmas really starts showing up in the mail. And as the season wears on -- and we enjoy the Ornament Exchange and then the Christmas Card Exchange -- they know it is Christmas time.

For me the fun doesn't come from getting this stuff though it comes from handing it out. I will take it and assign it to one of our writers to review if I don't have the time to check it out myself (and I frequently don't). And all writers LOVE to write reviews on new products.


Because there's almost no research involved. There is very little background work to be done, no fact verification, no point-counterpoint angles to pursue. Review writing is all about feeling and opinion. And there isn't a writer on God's green earth who isn't oozing with that stuff.

And that leads to my favorite part of all with this odd holiday dance we do -- reading the product reviews. It is some of the very best Christmas-related creative writing to read and I am so very easily entertained by it.

Over the years I have used these opportunities to teach writing to different individuals -- especially my kids. Christmas, after all, is hugely popular and everyone wants to write about it. It is easy, for the most part, to relate to the topic, even when checking out something as simple as a new ornament. "You don't need to pay me," some writers will say to me. "I just love Christmas and want to do this for the fun of it."

My kids recently started school and when I mean started I mean that they've been homeschooled for many years and the literally started public school for the first time this week. My 15 year old daughter started at a brand new high school -- first day of school ever for her, first day of high school, first day of school for the new school, firsts for everything -- and she has had to endure a month of testing and assessment before even beginning.

On day #2 of Language Arts she was asked, "Allie, where did you learn to write?" Her answer: My Merry

I would have loved to have been there to see the look on the teacher's face as my daughter even attempted to explain all this.

Given their newly acquired public-school responsibilities coupled with sports and just being teenagers I'm not sure I will have any internal candidates to write reviews for me this Christmas.

But I have several old favorites out there and many new folks who contact me all the time about writing for MMC.

I'm sure we'll wear this pile of Christmas down in short order.
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