Christmas cliches make the naughty list

Each year about this time, our former copy desk chief Neil Holdway would send around an email warning of the horrors of holiday cliches.

He hated them almost as much as the Grinch hated Christmas.

"Beware the following Christmas cliches" began the typical December missive, followed by warnings about the evils of overused holiday phrases that might tempt a writer around this time of year.

"'Tis the season" typically topped his list.

"'Twas the night before" was another no-no.

Also earning coal in Christmas stockings: any "Christmas came early for ..." construction, the use of "dampened" holiday spirits and, of course, "jolly old elf" mentions - followed by a reminder that if you must use Kriss Kringle, don't forget the extra "s."

"Grinch" or "Scrooge" for describing seasonal cranks and curmudgeons might have prompted a hearty "Bah humbug" were that Charles Dickens phrase not on the naughty list as well.

December weather came with its own admonitions. No Old Man Winter. No Jack Frost. No "white stuff."

Just snow.

This year, I will send out the memo in Neil's place. And I'll add a few of my own. "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" will make the list. "Yes, Virginia" will too. And maybe I'll advise to tread lightly on the Ho, Ho, Hos.

But I can't promise that Christmas cliches won't sneak in here or there.

'Tis the season, after all.

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