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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Yuletide Stalker....

The Yuletide Stalker

Help! I'm being stalked! Yes, lurking outside my bedroom door this morning was a stalker, just waiting for me to innocently leave my boudoir and head toward the kitchen, still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and contemplating the day's activity. 

At a time when I was least expecting it, this dastardly goon sneaked up behind me and I was overcome before I even knew what was happening. Yes, I was a victim – assaulted in my own home by none other than the Christmas Spirit.

I could scarcely believe it when I was first attacked. I struggled and attempted to escape. This particular phantom has been stalking me for years, always at about the same point of time during the Yuletide season. I normally manage to lay low, avoid shopping malls and parties, and thereby protect myself from vulnerability long enough for the urge to send greeting cards, burn scented candles, or decorate my home with greenery to subside. 

Somehow, I just could not succeed in escaping its grasping clutches this year. Before I realized what was happening, I was totally under the Christmas Spirit's influence and wildly making plans to go to a Christmas crafts exhibit. It would be fun! I could look at all the Christmas bazaar items maybe pick up a gift or two. I was a woman possessed! I could hardly wait to start the Christmas shopping.

At the craft fair that Christmas Spirit, sneaky devil, knew where to take me to get me in the right mood. The craft fair smelled like cinnamon, pine trees and candles all mingled together. There were hand crafted Santas, decorated trees, red ribbons and green holly. I loaded up on terrific homemade candles; hand crafted ornaments, and hand-painted wooden items. 

I took only a small amount of cash along, figuring I wouldn’t overspend that way. Darn that Christmas Spirit! It reached in my purse and found my credit card - forcing me to buy everything in sight. I could scarcely believe what was happening! I finished nearly all of my Christmas shopping in just a few hours. Boy, will my family be surprised this year. But how can I get rid of this unwanted peppermint scented parasite that has taken control of my senses?

I returned home still possessed. I had nearly forgotten where the Christmas wrapping paper was - but the Christmas Spirit knew. Obviously, it had been lurking around for quite a while and was thoroughly enjoying this opportunity. It dragged me up the stairs, ignoring my kicking and screaming pleas for mercy, and took me right to the very spot where those rolls of red and green paper were stored, next to the dusty box with the tree and ornaments. 

I quickly seized the wrapping paper and ran downstairs without looking back, narrowly escaping the urge to open that dusty storage box and see what was inside. I wrapped gifts obsessively, scarcely pausing except to find gift tags and write names. When finally finished, I fell back exhausted and surveyed all the work I had done. Not bad, I decided.

But the Christmas Spirit was only getting warmed up. I fought and fought - you can't believe how I struggled. I don't even remember going back up those attic stairs. I can't remember how I got the big Christmas tree box down the stars, not to mention that box full of ornaments. All I remember is that when I came to my senses the tree was up, a job I've always hated. I even had Christmas music playing in the background. I could hardly wait to string the lights around it.

I unwrapped the antique Santa ornaments and hung them on the tree. The memories begin to flow. The Christmas Spirit retreated to hide behind a poinsettia and watch. The cross-stitch ornaments - I remember the winter I made those. We lived in an apartment. I had nothing much to do that winter, so I cross-stitched. One by one I took out all the special ornaments given to me through the years by special friends. I discovered the slightly lopsided decorations that my children made in grade school. 

I unwrapped the angel music box that plays "Silent Night." The children always wanted to wind it up when they were small. I would let them hold it in their little hands to look at. It was never broken through all the years. My eyes were a bit moist by the time I finished as they nearly always are. Perhaps this is why I fight the Christmas Spirit so hard - the memories – a melancholy blend of times past, loved ones gone, Christmases both happy and sad.

Anyhow, by the time the tree was finished, lights strung, ornaments hung carefully, and all the other special Christmas treasures displayed, I was totally exhausted, much too tired to fight the Christmas Spirit any longer. I decided to hide for a while and try to recover my composure.

I know that sneaky Christmas Spirit is still out there someplace. I can hear the tinkle of tiny bells faintly in the distance. Is that the music box playing or something else? I can't quite be sure. I can only hope the Christmas Spirit is satisfied now that it owns the house and its presence has been proclaimed to all by the large Christmas wreath on the front door. 

Surely that holiday apparition doesn't know about the chocolate chip cookie recipe, the one with oatmeal that I always used to make before the holidays. I am just too tired to bake cookies tonight - maybe tomorrow. Who knows? We might even make a gingerbread house together.

Copyright 1999 Sheila Moss

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