December 20th, 2014

This story comes from Proud Podcast Person John L. You might think it’s not a Christmas story, but I say it is. John is an old friend, with whom I disagree violently on politics, religion, and cherry pie. But he is a friend. There’s a Christmas story in just that fact when you think about it. Here’s his story:

> > >>>>> A little girl went
> > >>>>> to her bedroom and
> > >>>>>
pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place
> >
>>>>> in the closet.
> > >>>>>
> >>>>> She poured the
> > >>>>>
change out on the floor and counted it
> > >>>>>
carefully. Three times, even. The
> > >>>>> total had
to be exactly perfect. No chance here
> > >>>>> for
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>>
Carefully placing
> > >>>>> the coins back in the jar
and twisting on the
> > >>>>> cap, she
> >
>>>>> slipped out the back door and
> >
>>>>> made her way 6 blocks to Rexall’s Drug Store
> >
>>>>> with the big red Indian Chief sign
> >
>>>>> above the door.
> > >>>>> She
waited patiently for
> > >>>>> the pharmacist to give

> > >>>>> her some attention, but he was too busy at this
> > >>>>> moment.
> >
>>>>> Tess twisted her feet to make a
> >
>>>>> scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her
> >
>>>>> throat with the most disgusting sound
> >
>>>>> she could muster. No good. Finally she took
> >
>>>>> a quarter from her jar and banged it on
> >
>>>>> the glass counter. That did it!
> >
> > >>>>> ‘And what do you want?’
> > >>>>> pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone

> > >>>>> of voice. I’m talking to my brother
> >>>>> from Chicago whom I haven’t seen in ages,’
> >>>>> he said without waiting for a reply to
> >
>>>>> his question.
> > >>>>> ‘Well, I
want to talk
> > >>>>> to you about my brother,’ Tess

> > >>>>> answered back in the same annoyed tone.

> > >>>>> ‘He’s really, really sick….and I want

> > >>>>> to buy a miracle.’
> >
>>>>> ‘I beg your pardon?’
> > >>>>>
said the pharmacist.
> > >>>>> ‘His name is Andrew and

> > >>>>> he has something bad
> >
>>>>> growing inside his
> > >>>>> head
and my Daddy says only a miracle can save
> > >>>>> him
now. So how
> > >>>>> much does a miracle
> > >>>>> ‘We don’t sell miracles
> >
>>>>> here, little girl.
> > >>>>> I’m
sorry but I
> > >>>>> can’t help you,’ the pharmacist
said, softening
> > >>>>> a little.
> >
> > >>>>> ‘Listen, I have the

> > >>>>> money to pay for it. If it isn’t enough, I
> > >>>>> get the rest. Just tell me how much it

> > >>>>> costs.’
> > >>>>> The
pharmacist’s brother was
> > >>>>> a well-dressed man.
He stooped down
> > >>>>> and asked the little girl,
‘What kind of
> > >>>>> a miracle does your brother
> > >>>>> ‘I don’t know,’ Tess
> >
>>>>> replied with her eyes welling up I
> >

>>>>> just know he’s really sick and Mommy says he
> >
>>>>> needs an operation. But my Daddy can’t
> >
>>>>> pay for it, so I want to use my money.’
> >
> > >>>>> ‘How much do you

> > >>>>> have?’ asked the man from Chicago.
> >>>>> ‘One dollar and
> > >>>>>
eleven cents,’ Tess answered barely
> > >>>>>
> > >>>>> ‘And it’s all the money
> >
>>>>> I have, but I can get some more
> >
>>>>> if I need to.’
> > >>>>> ‘Well,
what a
> > >>>>> coincidence,’ smiled the man. ‘A

> > >>>>> dollar and eleven cents—the exact price of

> > >>>>> a miracle for little brothers.’
> >
>>>>> He took her money in one
> > >>>>>
hand and with
> > >>>>> the other hand he grasped

> > >>>>> her mitten and said ‘Take me to where you
> > >>>>> I want to see your brother and meet

> > >>>>> your parents. Let’s see if I have the miracle

> > >>>>> you need.’
> > >>>>>
That well-dressed man
> > >>>>> was Dr. Carlton
Armstrong, a surgeon,
> > >>>>> specializing in
> > >>>>> The operation was completed
free of charge and
> > >>>>> it wasn’t long until
Andrew was home
> > >>>>> again and doing well.
> >>>>> Mom and Dad were
> > >>>>>
happily talking about the chain of
> > >>>>> events
that had led them to this place.
> > >>>>>
> >
>>>>> ‘That surgery,’ her Mom
> > >>>>>
whispered. ‘was a real miracle. I wonder
> > >>>>> how
much it would have cost?’
> > >>>>> Tess smiled. She
> > >>>>> exactly how much a miracle cost…one

> > >>>>> dollar and eleven cents…plus the faith of a

> > >>>>> little child.
> >
> > >>>>> In our lives, we

> > >>>>> never know how many miracles we will
> >>>>> need.
> > >>>>> A miracle is
not the
> > >>>>> suspension of natural law, but the
operation of
> > >>>>> a higher law.
> >
> > >>>>> I know you’ll keep the
ball moving!
> > >>>>> Here it goes. Throw it back to

> > >>>>> someone who means something to you!
> >>>>> A ball is a circle, no
> >
>>>>> beginning, no end. It keeps us together
> >
>>>>> like our Circle of Friends. But the treasure
> >
>>>>> inside for you to see is the treasure
> >
>>>>> of friendship you’ve granted to me.
> >
>>>>> Today I pass the
> > >>>>>
friendship ball to you.
> > >>>>> Pass it on
> >>>>> to someone who is a friend to you.
> >
> > >>>>> When
you are sad…I will
> > >>>>> dry your tears.
> >>>>> When you
> > >>>>> are
scared…I will comfort your fears.
> > >>>>> When you
> > >>>>> worried…I will give you hope.
> >>>>> When you are confused…I
> >
>>>>> will help you cope.
> > >>>>> And
when you are lost…and
> > >>>>> can’t see the light,
> > >>>>> shall be your
> >
>>>>> beacon…shining ever so bright.
> >
>>>>> This is my oath…I
> > >>>>>
pledge till the end.
> > >>>>> Why you may
> > >>>>> you’re my friend.
> >
> > >>>>> Signed:
> >
>>>>> GOD
> > >>>>>



December 19th, 2014

I’m collecting your Christmas stories again this year. Please send yours to Dick@DickSummer.com Here’s one of my own stories:

My friend Len Segal remembers one Christmas Eve when I was on the air in Boston. He says, “You asked listeners to write to you with their personal thoughts about what Christmas means to them. You were struck by how much your listeners opened up their hearts and souls in those letters. And since you were doing the Christmas Eve broadcast from the remote studio on the Common (Boston Common is a park in the middle of Boston), you decided to read the letters outside the studio with the people who had come to see the broadcast. You and I scouted the area for a suitable burn barrel, which we needed because when we went outside with the letters we were going to ask everyone to gather in a circle holding hands as you read the letters one by one…then you were going to throw the letters into the fire. That’s all I remember. By the way, I’m Jewish, but I spent many a Christmas Day with my Christian friends. It’s a spirit of good will that makes Christmas.” Right, Len. And Santa says, “Happy Hanukkah to you.”

Here’s a little more to the story, although I’m not going to swear everything I remember is accurate after all this time. The broadcast was 8 pm to midnight. I planned on reading the letters…and burning them…at around 11:45. I mentioned what I was going to do on the air, and I invited people to “drop in.” By 9 pm there were quite a few folks there. By 10, there were several hundred people there. By 11, there was a traffic jam on Charles Street (the street right by the park.)

Remember, this was a spur of the moment thing. I didn’t have permission from anybody, including the radio station or the police department to do it. By 11:30, it looked like we had at least a thousand people standing around the broadcast trailer, and the cops had sent extra troops out trying to untangle the traffic. I figured I was in TROUBLE. But one of the cops came over, saw what was going on, smiled, and just wished me a Merry Christmas.

Then some of the musicians from the Unicorn Coffee House showed up. As I recall, Tom Rush was there, and I think Jose Feliciano, Jaime Brockett, and Mitch Kertzman. At 11:45, I went outside and started reading the letters, and burning them as I went. I consider burning them to be a sign of respect. As if on cue, it started to snow….softly. And just before midnight…a little off key…we all sang Silent Night.

If you’ve ever heard 1,000 people singing Silent Night…standing close enough together to keep warm…by a Christmas Eve bonfire in the snow, you will never forget it. If you were there, thank you. It was a long, long time ago. But I will never forget it. Never.


December 18th, 2014

Proud Podcast Participant Betsy K. send this. I think it’s brilliant. What do you think?

Whenever I’m disappointed with my spot in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott. Jamie was trying out for a part in the Christmas play. His mother told me that he’d set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement.. ‘Guess what, Mom,’ he shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to me….’I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.



December 17th, 2014

Just a few days left to get your Christmas stories in. I’d love to hear from you. Just send them to: dick@DickSummer.com Here’s one from Proud Podcast Participant Audrey.

Hi Dick,

The song “The Carol of the Bells” will always be the most important Christmas song to me. I remember my sister brought her 5 year old sister (me) with her to high school choir practice (Medford, MA High School) one evening in the mid 50’s. They were practicing that song. I sang alto with my sister. I felt very important. Some of the other members of the choir gave me some nice compliments and said they couldn’t believe someone as young as I could sing such a difficult piece. WOW! To this day, it’s not the Christmas season unless I hear “Carol of the Bells” at least once a day. My sister always brought me down to Boston to see all the lights, especially the ones on Boston Common. It was such a special time for me.

The next one, we were still living in Medford, MA and I was about 6 years old. When I came downstairs in the morning, there beside the tree was a cream-colored electric keyboard that looked like a miniature organ with a big red bow on it. I learned many piano pieces on that keyboard and to this day, I still think about what the songs sounded like when I played them on that instrument.

I remember the year that “The Little Drummer Boy” came out. I brought the record in to school and the teacher played it. A few of my friends and I stood in front of our class during our little presentation and sang the song, at the teacher’s request. I felt so important!

Many years later I ordered a set of record albums from Reader’s Digest….. Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Christmas concert albums. I had the first stereo record player I had bought. I put those albums on starting the day I received them, and played them every day throughout the entire month of December. I did that every year until about 12 years ago when circumstances prevented me from doing so. Last year I pulled the albums out, only to find that my “trusty” turntable had quit working. I guess it’s going to be a while before I can hear them again —– not until I get a replacement turntable. I’m glad I have a good stack of CD’s and tapes, but nothing replaces that Boston Pops set.

My daughter was born just before Christmas 1975. The hospital was all decorated, and one day a small group of nuns came through and sang carols. My daughter celebrated her first Christmas at the age of 6 days, so tiny and new. That was a feeling that only a new mother can describe. I think of holding that tiny, sweet baby every Christmas eve.

Several years ago, shortly after I moved to a new state, I met a woman named Midge. She was like another mother to me. She wanted me to learn a certain song because her son used to sing it for her. He had passed away but the song always brought good memories to her. She gave me a CD of the song so I could learn it. I got to sing it for her exactly twice before she suddenly passed away. A few years ago, the choir director of our local Choral Society asked me to sing a solo at the Christmas concert. (The concert theme was “A Mary Christmas”). There was no doubt in my mind what to sing. I enlisted the aid of a friend to play the guitar and I sang “Mary, Did you Know?” While I was singing, not another sound was heard in the church auditorium. It was such a moving experience, one I’ll never forget.

Christmas has always been a special occasion to me. Besides the original meaning, it has given me the chance to buy or make gifts and cards for everyone who was special to me. As the years go by, that list has grown longer and longer. I tend to spread the gifts out during the year because birthdays are also very special to me. I now have 5 wonderful grandchildren and though they live almost 2,800 miles away, I make it a point to send them gifts – usually home-made or recycled —- at Christmas and their birthdays, and other special occasions. At this point in my life, I don’t want to receive any gifts. The things I want I can do without, and the things I need are too expensive for anyone I know to get. I share my singing with lots of different people for many diverse occasions. I always thank The Ultimate Gift-Giver for that talent that was bestowed upon me. I’m not so arrogant and self-centered any more so I can be more sincere and natural when I entertain. I enjoy other people singing and making music as well, but it’s still not Christmas unless I hear “Carol of the Bells” at least once a day.

Thank you, Dick, for sharing my love of music, for its impact on our lives.

Merry Christmas, Fröelich Weinachten, Göd Jul, Mele Kelikimaka, Kuri sumasu,
Buona Natale, Joyeux Noël, Felíz Navidad

— Many Waters –


December 16th, 2014

Still looking for your Christmas stories. Please send them to dick@dicksummer.com . Here’s one from a broadcasting buddy of mine by the name of Jerry DelColliano. It’s worth posting on your refrigerator door:

  • This Christmas
  • Give yourself a break. Promise yourself many days when you get off your own back. Perhaps the greatest gift of all is self-forgiveness. We are human. We do our best. We can do better. But we have done all we can for now.
  • Give yourself an IOU. Every time you do something well, make a significant accomplishment or handle a difficult promise, issue an IOU to yourself to redeem the next time you need a boost of confidence.
  • Give your love. We live in a world focused on being loveable, getting love or having more of it. Start with yourself. Let me help. Finish this sentence: “I love this about myself”. How many of these can you come up with?
  • Give yourself the gift of dreaming. Everything good started with a dream from someone whether it is a relationship, a movement, a cause or a business.
  • Give yourself the gift of hope. Life without hope is actually death. As long as we’re here and we’re on this earth, all things are possible.


December 15th, 2014

We’re collecting Christmas stories again this year for the podcast and this blog. My email is dick@dicksummer.com Here’s one from Proud Podcast Person John L.:


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare… You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”




December 14th, 2014

Proud Podcast Person John R. sent this Christmas note. It was sent to him by his Christmas friend Fran:

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.

Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row- center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”.

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.” Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

“C H R I S T W A S L O V E”

And, I believe, He still is.
Amazed in His presence….humbled by his love.


December 13th, 2014

My buddy Al wrote a Christmas story to remember last year in his blog at http://bananascrackersandnuts.com/bcnuts/. He gave me permission to put it here. Al and I go back a lot of years. His friendship is one of the best parts of Christmas. This is what he said:

I awoke to find myself in the less-than-bustling metropolis of Comstock, Michigan. No, I hadn’t been on an all night bender — it only felt that way. I had been on a fifteen hour drive with Vigi to visit her family for Thanksgiving and I did all of the ‘aiming’ for the final seven hours. It was our last chance to make the trip before winter closed in and I looked forward to spending a holiday with a house full of people once again.

Since the kids moved out and scattered around the country raising their own families, the peace and quiet I longed for while they were growing up had become deafening, especially around the holidays. Besides, things were getting kind of crazy at the radio station and we were sloshing our way through the middle of a financial rough patch at home; not the greatest timing with Christmas just around the corner.

After the obligatory slide show and catching up on several years of National Geographic, I was more than ready to prowl two of my favorite haunts in town — the only two haunts in town. It felt good not to be sticking to a schedule for a change and, in my absence, Veege could visit with her folks without being concerned about keeping me constantly entertained. After meandering through the aisles of the local Meijer’s ‘everything store’ I headed over to the one place that was an absolute, positive, don’t miss any time we made the trip: The Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

They had vintage aircraft from World War II and Korea through present day classics hangared there and many were still operational. On the right day, you could even catch a glimpse of a local pilot putting one of those two-thousand horsepower beauties through her paces! They had everything from flight simulators and a pink [believe it or not] P-40 flown by a very talented pilotress, to a mighty gull-winged Corsair — the plane that makes my heart go thump and has held the kid in me hostage ever since I first saw the movie Flat Top. You could actually walk up close enough to get a whiff of grease and oil mixed with just a hint of musty leather.

No tour of The Air Zoo was complete without a trip to the gift shop. I entered expecting to see the usual models, banners, books and displays — but what to my wandering eyes should appear but a shiny Corsair, perfect scale to the gear! She was carved from mahogany and painted in such painstaking detail that you could almost hear the roar of her engine. She was gorgeous! She was, also, $139 and I couldn’t afford to spend the price of a post card at that point.

I was unusually quiet for the last two days of our visit and most of the ride home. I am never quiet. Never. ”All right, what’s wrong?” Vigi finally ventured. ”Shows, huh?” ”Not if you’re a mime,” she answered. I told her all about the Corsair and explained that it wasn’t so much that I wanted it but that I couldn’t get it. We both had good jobs and worked hard. We weren’t extravagant. It’s not like it was a car or a boat or something — just a stupid airplane model that shouldn’t even require decision making. She reminded me that the financial rough patch was only temporary, and I stopped my whining. In my generation guys were supposed to do better than that for their families; the little airplane became a symbol that continued eating at me — and she knew it.

The remaining few weeks until Christmas sped by. Our ‘rough patch’ was beginning to smooth out and I had, at last, put the whole episode with the Corsair behind me — mostly. Christmas morning, the two of us did our usual Santa thing but when the ripping and tearing of brightly colored paper had ended, there was still one more present under the tree. She smiled and handed it to me. Unlike the others, I opened this one carefully unveiling a plain brown box. I was puzzled. Slowly I opened the flaps marked “This Side Up” — and what to my wondering eyes should appear but THE shiny Corsair! The one from The Air Zoo!


That incredible lady actually pirated all of the money from her change jar, where she had been dumping stray nickels, dimes and quarters for years, contacted the curator of The Zoo and ordered one very important Corsair for one grumpy old man. So many times through the years Vigi has lighted a torch when she found me in a dark place — and that Christmas, she did it again!


December 12th, 2014


Looking for your Christmas stories for this blog and for our podcasts. Here’s a beauty from Proud Podcast Person “Sgt. Preston.”

I think I told you my fondest Christmas memory a few years ago and, while you didn’t ask for them, here’s a New Year’s story? 

In mid-November, a few days before my 19th birthday, I met a beautiful, sweet, smart, funny 17-year-old high school senior. We started dating. Nobody committed to exclusivity, but neither of us went out with anyone else during the ensuing month. I was looking forward to New Year’s Eve, but a couple of weeks before hand, she told me that she couldn’t go out with me for New Year’s Eve because before we met, she had committed to going out with a guy she was dating the previous summer, who was away at college. I was disappointed, but not yet far enough into the relationship to be devastated. 

This happened in 1964. It was after Lesley Gore founded modern feminism by taking us from “It’s My Party” to “You Don’t Own Me” in seven months in 1963, but the movement wasn’t yet firmly established. Parked outside her family home in my five-year-old Plymouth, the young lady who just delivered disappointment to me went on to tell me that she was going to tell her New Year’s Eve date that she didn’t want to go out with him anymore and she also said she wanted to date me exclusively. Now, anyone alive at the time knows it was extremely unusual in those days for a teenage girl to say something about exclusive dating before the teenage boy part of the equation mentioned it first. As I grew to know the young lady better, I realized it was also uncharacteristically bold of her. 

I didn’t feel pressured by her desire for exclusivity. After New Year’s Eve, she didn’t date anyone else and I didn’t date anyone else, but it took me until Valentine’s Day to ask her to go steady (does anyone still do that?). A half a century later, she still has my high school ring. She also has my Army dog tags, my engagement ring, my wedding ring, my son, my daughter and the half century of dating and marriage we’ve shared together. 

Tom Preston


Wonder Wench Writes

December 11th, 2014

My Lady Wonder Wench sent a slice of fruitcake kind of reply to the current podcast:

It’s not that Santa Claus is old – after all, I have my very own Sinta Klas and HE sure isn’t old. Well – not very – but the good man has been part of the season for a very long time and I’m not sure what most of us would do without him. So I intend never to find out . . .Which means, of course, that I will continue to leave cookies and milk and carrots in the front room . . .. . . and listen for sleigh bells on Christmas Eve . . . . and remember that the reason there is a jolly old elf is to keep us from forgetting that something wonderful and special happened once upon a time, far far away, when night turned into day and all the world forgot to hate – just for a moment --