When I was a Metro section reporter at the Washington Post and double-time pay meant more to me than a day off, I used to volunteer to work Christmas. The holy grail was a feature with live art, and one year I offered a piece I knew would deliver: I wanted to spend the day with someone who had just converted, making this their first year without Christmas. As a nominal Jew who coveted Christmas, I couldn’t possibly imagine choosing such agony. The Metro editor said, “Great idea! But instead, we think you should do it about someone who converted and this is their first year with Christmas!” In other news, puppies and kitties are really, really cute.
I was relaying this anecdote recently to Jenny Medina of the New York Times, who asked why I had left the paper in 2004. (Really, I left to write another book; the difference in holiday feature taste was just icing.) She said, I AM WORKING ON THAT STORY NOW!