Because John Held was out Christmas shopping or celebrating the Christmas season (or both) for an extended period, we are reprinting last year's holiday column. 'Twas the week before Christmas,

When all through the place Not a creature was working

At the regular pace. With deadline approaching

(St. Nicholas due) Employes were shopping

'Til way after 2, Or else they were greeting

The season with cheer, Out raising their spirits

And downing their beer. In a quite different way

Than the mere 9-to-5s The biggies were having

The time of their lives As visions of bonuses

Danced in their heads, All nestled in tax shelters,

Safe from the Feds. And I, who had lingered

Because of some flap, Was more in the mood

For a long winter's nap, When somewhere close by

There arose such a clatter, I sprang from my desk

To see what was the matter. From office to office

I flew like a flash, Suspecting computers

That threatened to crash. My hunch seemed correct

When I spotted a glow, A display screen all covered

With bright greenish snow. Then what to my wondering

Eyes should appear But a miniature sleigh

And eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver,

So lively and quick, I knew in a moment

It must be St. Nick. I'd barely admired

This computerized graphic When he gave me a smile

That was almost seraphic And stepped from the screen,

A right jolly old elf; I laughed when I saw this,

In spite of myself. He spoke not a word

But went straight to his work, Went straight to the "in" box

And stopped with a jerk. He dumped out the memos

With which it was filled And put in some new ones;

I watched him, all thrilled. From there he went on

To each "in" box around And replaced all the nonsense

(As later I found) With notes that were chatty

And downright amazing, Just heaped full of pleases

And thank yous and praising. He turned, at the last,

And, winking at me, He vanished right into

The nearest PC. But I heard him exclaim,

"When push comes to shove, In the business of living

The bottom line's love."