Down the Road a Piece

By MILT GROSS | Dec 21, 2013

The Christmas newsletter

Each year we receive long, long, long newsletters just before Christmas. This year we decided to reply to them.

The reply below is not to you dear readers, who for some reason keep reading this column and to whom we wish a Merry Christmas. It is meant for those who send us the long, long, long newsletters just before Christmas.

Milton M. Gross, the good husband of Dolores Bernier, his gooder wife

Ellsworth, Maine 04605

December 2013

To our far away friends and relatives:

Who we don’t hear from except once a year, when you send your Christmas letters and report on the doings of all those folks we don’t know. Glad to hear they’re doing well. (Well, we may know some of them.)

This year we have two “blessed” items:


1. Last November (that is 2012) we replaced our aging, sagging oil boiler and baseboard heat in our home with an electric heat pump, which operates very inexpensively. A year later, the heat pump is doing well -- maybe better than we are. But we’re not keeping score. It first of all has removed us from the WPL (World Polluters List) that was not only spewing that oil smoke into the air but was costing us $2,500 a year just in buying oil. Never mind the insurances and annual boiler checkups performed by a young guy, who told us he plans to make oil heating his career.

Good luck with that one, my young oil guy, since, thankfully, the nation is using less oil each year. If you’re still heating with oil, well too bad for you. You know what happens to heating oil consumers when they die. (If you do, will you please tell us, as nobody yet has.)

2. We have finally gotten my Acadia-National-Park murder mystery book manuscript to a book publisher. A traditional one, not one of those self-publisher who happily take your money to publish your dribble. The traditional one pays you.

3. Our traditional book publisher hasn’t rejected the manuscript. Of course, the publisher just got it, our having UPSed (new verb, if you’re keeping track) it. We were going to drive all 386 pages down there to the coastal Maine town, but it snowed that day. (We experienced Maineiac drivers know better than go driving book manuscripts around in the snow. We let that kind of stuff up to those imported folk from New Jersey -- and to UPS.)


4. Our cat, Tom, is still happy and healthy. And he’s smart too, too smart to go outside much in December and brave those low thermometer readings. He’s not that smart, though, because he does chase our 30 wild turkeys when he’s out there braving December. Neither he nor they realize they could peck him and do him in whenever they wish.


5. My kids are all alive and doing okay for being nearly middle age -- which I don’t quite understand, considering I am 29.5 going on 29.75, and Dolores is 20 going on 19. Anyway, congratulations kids. Probably they inherited those traits of doing okay.


6. Some of our relatives we never hear from. And they’re thankful that they don’t hear from us.


7. My retirement job -- odd, at 29.5 -- is still going strong, but it will become lonely if that book manuscript brings us a fair amount of money. Notice that we’re not greedy; a fair amount will suffice.


8. We’re glad this holiday season (there’s a movement afoot to not call

Christmas or Xmas, the “X” being a Greek letter that may mean “Christ)       Christmas or Xmas. Now it’s a holiday, your’s depending on what religious or non-religious persuasion you are -- as long as you keep spending your money on those holiday gifts. (This paragraph behaved itself.)


9. That we braved the first day of winter today and hiked as far as the edge or our woods and captured a live Christmas (not holiday) tree. It’s now resting out in the shed, wondering why it’s not a holiday tree.


10. That we still have enough smarts left to remember to stop writing this and to wish you all a Merry Christmas (holiday at your discretion) and a Happy New Year.

Milt and Dolores



11. I’m sorry I can’t count to two, as I’m sure you are, whichever it may be.

12. If this didn’t reach you, it’s because we don’t know how many stamps our dying post office requires for a Christmas newsletter.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross copyright 2013

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