Despite all the turmoil, as usual everything got done just in time . I even had time to finish my famous Santa Claus cookies, nearly a 60 year family tradition now. One of my earliest Christmas memories is of biting the head of a Santa Claus cookie and breaking out in tears because I thought I had destroyed Santa. I started making decorated cookies longer ago than I can remember. Of course, at first I was only allowed to decorate trees. Later, though, after I had mastered the art of both green and white trees, I was allowed to decorate Santa Clauses. With the exception of the year I was in Vietnam (somehow it didn't seem appropriate for a heavy mortar platoon leader to be making Santa Claus cookies), I've never missed a year, including last year when I couldn't eat a single, damn cookie. Strangely enough when I was little the cookies just seemed like nothing more than a prelude to the gifts, but now they've become more important than the presents. Hopefully in a year or so I'll be able to get Gavin started making Christmas trees .