Birthday close to Christmas isn't a great gift
By Bill Kirby | Columnist
Sunday, January 03, 2010

"January, month of empty pockets! Let us endure this evil month ..."

-- Sidonie Gabri

Today's my younger brother's birthday, and I mention that not to get out of mailing him a card (although that's the way it worked out), but to tell all those born this close to Christmas: "I'm really sorry."

It must be irritating to grow up with a birthday so close to Christmas. That's the way it was with my brother.

We always felt sorry for him because he often had his gifts "consolidated" by cheap relatives (and older siblings).

OK, I admit I sometimes just rewrapped one of the Christmas presents I had grown tired of and gave it to him.

But who had time to think of something new this close to Dec. 25?

For a while we experimented with giving him a "birthday present" in midsummer, but it didn't catch on.

Again, sorry.

SPEAKING OF YEARS: Is 2010 the end of one decade or the beginning of another?

I had been thinking that technically the decade didn't end until the end of this year, but I find that there is a big debate on the subject. After all, a decade is any 10-year grouping, and why not make 2000 to 2009 such a designation?

Apparently this came up 10 years ago, but we never resolved it.

A RIDDLE: A very nice reader called and wanted me to share a Christmas carol riddle. Who was the most prolific writer of hymns, who only came up with one Christmas carol? And what was it? (See below )

LONG GOODBYES: They should have services this week for U.S. District Judge Anthony A. Alaimo , who passed away Wednesday at age 89.

As someone who covered this remarkable federal judge through much of the 1970s and 1980s, I will say he often appeared to be alone in trying to get the governments of Augusta, Richmond and Burke counties to follow the law of the land. He also appeared to be single-handedly showing the state of Georgia how to clean up the massive embarrassment that was the state prison at Reidsville.

We now see that Judge Alaimo alone had everyone else outnumbered. He was right and made others do right, too.

As our own U.S. Judge Dudley Bowen said of him, "His will is iron, his grip a vise and his mind a steel trap."

And as I said of him many years ago, "Standing before Judge Alaimo in court is like facing Moses after you've broken a commandment."

He was one of the most impressive men I have covered in the past four decades.

RIDDLE ANSWER: It was Charles Wesley , whom I guessed, but I forgot his only Christmas carol was Hark the Herald Angels Sing .

TODAY'S JOKE: In a rush to work one morning, a man pulled up to the drive-through window at a fast-food restaurant and ordered some coffee.

Because he was in a hurry, he asked them to put a couple of ice cubes in the coffee so it would cool down more quickly and he could drink it faster.

He ended up sitting at the pickup window for a few minutes, wondering where they had to go to get his coffee, when a frustrated teenager finally came up and said, "I'm sorry for the delay, but the ice you wanted in your coffee keeps melting!"

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or

From the Sunday, January 03, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle


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