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The Slice: He always came through in the clutch

Sun., Dec. 23, 2012

My friend Mike Wirt’s favorite Christmas memory deals with his father, who died when Mike was 16.

Wirt’s dad was a mail carrier in the 1950s. He had a rural route on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The stores in the area’s biggest town offered limited selections. So lots of people ordered Christmas gifts from catalogs.

The hope, of course, was that the packages would be delivered by Dec. 24.

But those on Mr. Wirt’s mail route who were disappointed that their presents had not arrived in time sometimes got a surprise.

“My dad, however gruff he sometimes seemed to me, had a bit of Santa’s elf in him,” wrote Mike, the retired head of the Spokane County library system. “I can vividly remember going with him on several Christmas mornings to a cold and dark post office to pick up late-arriving packages for his rural customers, loading them (along with me) in the back seat, and driving down snow bank-lined country roads in the cold to deliver them.

“I never got to see the looks on people’s faces when he came to their door on Christmas Day, but I can only imagine their surprise, happiness, and thankfulness.

“At the time I didn’t think of it as anything other than helping my dad. But it must have impressed me because it’s something I’ve never forgotten.”

Trust me, I’m not making light of failed marriages: But divorces can complicate the addressing of Christmas cards.

“What name is she going by now?”

When inflatable snowmen come down from a high: Mike Carlson put a 10-foot blow-up “Frosty” inaction figure on his roof, but soon found the jolly, happy soul “on his lips.”

Carlson’s theory? “Substance abuse.”

There must have been some magic dust in that old silk hat they found.

Thumpety, thump, thump.

Deadline approaching: You have until 9 a.m. Wednesday to submit your two 2013 local headlines. One should reflect what you hope to read atop a news, sports or feature story next year. The other should be a headline you actually expect to see in 2013.

Today’s Slice question: Do you have any Christmas Eve Eve traditions?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email If ice skates are of decent quality, sharpened and fit properly, “weak ankles” should not be a factor.

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