Now, when you utter the phrase, you are being bold and defiant.
Oops, there's another un-utterable holiday phrase!
And it's his birthday!
So as I fight, fight, fight to return this time of year to its former stature (i.e., better than Thanksgiving), I remember a guy who contributed greatly to making Christmas Christmas for me back in the day.
Gus Bernier. Just a guy who pretty much ran the old WMUR TV station in Manchester in the fifties and a bit into the sixties. I got the impression he showed up in the morning, opened the door of the station, cranked up the broadcasting equipment, and then did everything until he went home, probably after eight or nine in the evening. He did the news and weather, I'm pretty sure about that. And he had a kiddie show, called "The Uncle Gus Show," which ran a while.
But the reason I remember him, and the reason I bring him up today, is that I believed he was Santa Claus.
Yeah, I said "believed."
Sometime in December each year when I was extraordinarily young, Gus did himself up as Santa, sat behind a WMUR desk, and transformed himself. The show would open, as I recall it, with what had to be a miniature igloo or something being dusted by WMUR snow. There was a window in the igloo and the camera zoomed in to the window, then opened up on Gus as Santa. He had an elf, named Ooglook (forgive the spelling, I have no idea), who could have been a man or a woman, and who had the voice of a bursting steam pipe. Bernier's voice was perfect--booming, happy, blustery. He would spend the first part of the show talking to us kids, directly into the camera, as if each of us was his own personal visitor. The television was like Santa's lap, and, since he came on at about 5:00, we watched and listened as we had dinner, or "suppa" as we called it back then.
After this, he would go to his workshop, and show us (and our parents, who, in those days, had "suppa" with the kids) all the new toys he and his elves had "built" at the North Pole. For some reason, which we kids neither understood nor tried to understand, he would tell us (and our parents) that if we wanted to take a closer look at the toys he had built, all we (and our parents) had to do was visit his "friends at Mattel" or wherever. Sponsorship taken care of.
And that's pretty much it. He was as believable a television character as any of the greats--Ed Norton, Barney Fife, Archie Bunker, Cartman--and when I woke up as a very young child and found gifts under the tree, it was this guy I believed had visited the house the night before, left the gifts, ate the cookies and milk.
To me, that's an astonishing accomplishment for an actor.
Well, making me believe, I mean. The cookies and milk--any actor could do that. Most would.