Celebration time. This edition marks the 25th anniversary of my Christmas list. Originally envisioned to fill that dead zone between the holidays and New Year’s, the list has taken on a life of its own. It’s been so much fun to write, a series on one-offs in the spirit of the season.
The people named get the gags (generally). As I’ve detailed in the past, I think that a one-line mention can require a hundred words of explanation.
For example: What could “For Ernest Klepeis, a portrait of Ashley Dittus” possibly mean to anybody other than Ernest and Ashley and maybe Oscar Wilde?
A brief explanation: Ernest was hired by Ashley to replace her as Democratic deputy elections commissioner when she moved up to Democratic commissioner earlier this year. Unknown outside political inner circles, Ernest in his brief tenure has been accessible, cooperative, courteous and willing to suffer stupid, annoying inquiries from media, much like his boss Ashley when she held that position.
Two of Oscar Wilde’s better-known books were The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray (a 1945 movie featuring 19-year-old Angela Lansbury).
So here we go:
For Ernest Klepeis: See above.
For Paul Benkert: Two to go with kraut and sauce from Dallas Hot Wieners.
For John Finch: Ditto.
To Trooper Robin Benziger: Postcards from Colonel Chandler.
For Kevin O’Connor: Alms for the poor.
For Kevin Cahill: Jack Hayes.
For Carl Belfiglio: Official photographer to (legislative) stars.
For Mary Connelly: An introduction to the real Hugh Reynolds.
For Dr. Roger Husted: 20-20 hindsight.
For Elizabeth Mowry: Induction into the Woodstock artists’ hall of fame.
For Fran Humphrey: A red TR-7.
For Ann Marie DiBella: Bob’s back porch.
To Carol Garafalo: The Freeman Survivor Award.
For Bob Haines: The Milt Wagonfohr photo collection.
For Karen Clark Adin: Windows on Wall Street (North Front, too).
For Pat Finch: A new license plate: Rav-4-Me.
For Kristy Bishop: Fabulous buns, from Ketterer’s, of course.
For the Irish Cultural Center: Irish setters.
For Vicky St. John: House calls from sister Ellen.
For Pete Loughran: New challenges in Westchester.
For Shannon Harris: A billboard in front of town hall.
For Dave Scarpino: Good news from Albany.
For Bob Mitchell: The Daily Planet’s Jimmy Olsen Award.
For Benny Rounds and The Retreads: Rock ’n’ roll music.
For Brian Hollander: Bluegrass, too.
For Raymond White: You don’t have to call him Mr. Johnson. You can call him Ray.
For Joe Ingarra: A chicken in every pot, but no left wings.
For Christine Hein: A sawbuck on “People’s Place” in next May’s Kentucky Derby.
For Ed Palladino: Grandson Avery Short’s major-league debut.
For Ken Hassett: A plum committee assignment.
For KNY’s Rich Cahill and Don Ryan: A regular spot on Fox News, working title: “The Deuce.”
For Cynthia Werthamer: Lunch at the Ritz.
For Bob Young: John Pike’s original drawing for the Pike Plan.
For John Parete: House calls from Dr. Nolan.
For Tania Barricklo: A photo Pulitzer, body of work.
For Frank Faluotico: Spicy meatballs.
For Harry VanVleet: Eggs over easy at the Port Ewen Diner.
For departing alderwomen Deb Brown and Maryann Mills: Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking.
For Fred Costello: Campaign photos with mom.
For Andrew Cuomo: Humble pie from Kingston’s Cake Box.
For Pete Lopez: A trillion dollars for Puerto Rico.
For George Heidcamp: The perfect plan.
For Bill Reynolds and Jim Noble: Tom Hoffay’s version of The Wild (Irish) Rover.
To Phyllis McCabe: A lasting legacy. With a moon roof.
For Tobi Watson: Porto prosperity.
For John Perry: A heaping bowl of Perry’s Ice Cream, smothered in Kellogg’s cornflakes.
For the fabulous Rhoda Lohre: Happy 90th birthday on Christmas Day.
For Joan Lawrence Bauer: Reruns of Sanford and Son.
For Greg Helsmoortel: His star on the Saugerties Walk of Fame.
For Paul Bond: A room with a view.
For Chris Gibson: The New York Times Best Seller List.
For Elliott Auerbach: One of Tony Marmo’s talented temps.
For Amy Murphy: Earl “The Hat” Pardini’s weed whacker.
For Pat Murphy: Dancing with the stars: Peter Stuyvesant, Tom Chambers, even Gen. Vaughan.
For Deb Alexsa: Another opening. Another show.
For Eileen Miller: Yuletide blessings with her own St. Nick. (Nicholas was born last month, three weeks ahead of time.)
For Ken Crannell: A nice set of holiday kissing balls.
For Laurie Vlanis: Big booths.
For John Faso: Town hall follies, or better, four more challengers.
For Patrice Courtney: A really strong candidate.
For Dr. Rick Esposito: The 10-minute workout.
For Paul O’Neill: Movie rights to Kingston’s Buried Treasures.
For Ward Todd: Len Cane’s one-liners.
For Hector Rodriguez: Fond memories of Hallie Arnold.
For Susan Zimet: Guest commentator on Liz Benjamin’s show.
For Gerry Benjamin: The license number of that Con-Con 18-wheeler.
For Mary Beichert: More bling.
For Chris Silva: Elevators at UPAC.
For Dan Barton: Outrageous, snot-flyin’ editorials.
For Neil Bettez: Holidays with village people.
For Jay Mahler: Agendas written in stone.
For Dan Torres: Campaigns galore.
For George Amedore: Al Spada’s wardrobe.
For John Quigley: A clown car full of pretty blondes.
For Jim Quigley: A Christmas Eve visit from Felix the (feral) Cat.
For Dr. Tom Stelatto: Fingers to the wind.
For Mario Catalano: One of those Wiltwyck Willie Wonka gold tickets.
For Annie Catalano: Karl Legregni’s secret recipe for succulent roast beef.
For Allan Wikman: A plot with a view at Woodstock Rural Cemetery.
For Ed Ford: April showers.
For Jennifer Schwartz Berky: Happy trails.
For Pete Rooney: Dyn-no-mite!
For Ernie Hunt: Just one more mile of straight track.
For Ulster PD officer Chris Short: Sainthood.
For Kathy Dittus: An autographed copy of Hillary’s What Happened.
For Scott Dutton: Restoration of the old post office, with doughnuts.
For Marc Luksberg: Johnny and June’s original recording of “Jackson.”
For Tracy Kellogg: Sinatra’s “That’s Life.”
For Julian Schreibman: Karen Peters’ really big shoes.
For Randy Smith: Woodstock cougars with a bottle of Capt. Morgan.
For Heidi Haynes: Welcome to the big time.
For Joe Maloney: An independent course. Laura Petit, too.
For Mary Wawro: Six votes?
For Stacy Rein: A million-dollar baby.
For Kevin Roberts: A gift certificate to Caterino’s barber shop. Ditto, Trump.
For Gioia Shebar: Ramparts to climb, barbarians to battle.
For Craig Lopez: Rebound-of-the-year award.
For mayor-maker Jen Fuentes: Future prospects.
For John Dittus: Postcards from Brad.
For Ken Ronk: Silence! We must have silence!
For Herb Litts: Bridges not so far.
For Rich Parete: Mike Warren’s key to the executive washroom.
For Donna Dittus: Tim Allen’s tool belt.
For Barbara Reynolds: Ditto.
For Vinnie Perry Jr.: Spit and polish.
For Carol Wickwire: Madam DeFarge’s guide to memorable knitting.
For Jan Coraza: Timely deliveries.
For Laila Smith: Opening for Hall and Oates.
For Cheryl Bowers: Thumbs up.
For Jim Davenport: Half of Cliff Miller’s pension.
For George Hucker: Woodstock eagles.
For Vince Altieri: The sheriff’s annual “intergrity” award, or honorable mention in next year’s spelling bee.
For Lynn Woods: Rondout, the movie, starring Brad Pitt as Stephen Blauweiss.
For Christina Coulter: The rights to Chris Allen’s biography, working title: Taking a Dip.
For Kyle Berardi: Honorary membership in Ulster Hose No. 5.
For Bill Cloonan: Salutes, warm handshakes and thanks.
For Jane Keller: Ten thousand visitors.
For Tom Turco: Another recount.
For Cliff Faintych: Kathy Nolan’s private number.
For Butch Dener: Five hundred organ transplant volunteers.
For Carrie Jones Ross: Hillary’s It Takes a Village.
For Maurice Hinchey: R.I.P.
And to all, a Happy New Year.