Bill KirbyOnline news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Hot water is the gift that keeps on giving

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It is not the gift, but the thought that counts.

– Henry Van Dyke

Sometimes the good Lord does the Christmas shopping for you.

A couple of years ago, he decided we needed to get a TV set.

The old one went out on the eve of Christmas Eve, and with my mother-in-law on the way for a week of holiday visiting I was dispatched to get a new set, post haste, so she wouldn’t “miss any of her shows.”

This was not what I had planned. I was thinking more of house shoes, but a TV set it was, and at least we got to keep it.

On at least two Christmases past, I have had something bad go wrong with the car.

“Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a water pump,” I told Mrs. Claus after coasting my sleigh into the driveway.

“At least you made it home,” she said, and she was right about that.

Just last week it was happening again.

Our water heater, which is old enough to interest the Smithsonian, started making odd noises and shooting water out a drain on the back of the house.

The good news: It was just an aging valve. The bad news? Well, you have to fix it.

“Merry Christmas,” I told my wife. “You’re getting the gift of hot water for the holidays.”

(It’s a wonderful life when the shopping’s done for you, isn’t it?)

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONGS: Tim and Connie Zello, of Washington, Ga., share this: “A couple that are especially meaningful are O Holy Night and Away in a Manger. O Holy Night is tough for we non-professionals to sing, but in the ‘hands’ of a skilled singer can be sublime. Away in a Manger is almost the opposite; a simple song even children can sing. It holds special significance to me because it is the only song my father, a regular but silent churchgoer, would ever sing. (Maybe because it mentions cattle and he was a part-time farmer?) He has been gone five years now but every time I hear or sing the song I still think of him singing it and I nearly tear up.”

TODAY’S JOKE: Frank Allen tells this. As the Christmas spirit will be flowing over the festivities a man told his friend he would like to share a cautionary tale about drinking and driving.

“As you well know, some of us have had brushes with the law on our way home from the odd social session over the years,” he said.

“A couple of nights ago, I was out for a few drinks with some friends and had a few too many beers.

“ Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit, I did something I’ve never done before – I took a bus home.

“I arrived home safely and without incident, which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a bus before and am not sure where I got this one.”

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