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The ridiculous picture featuring yours truly, Kyle Gargaro, managing editor, Michael McConnell,SNIPSchief editor, and Kathy Janes, our business development manager, in Depends® diapers and worse - St. Louis Cardinals World Series T-shirts - is not what I had in mind for your Christmas present. However, Santa Claus certainly smiled on the Cards by helping them to an early Christmas at the hands of the hapless Detroit Tigers. Yes, we lost the bet. Mark Skaer, our senior editor and a St. Louis native son, was the incorrigible winner.

What I had in mind was a simple poem wishing you and yours a happy holiday season, peace on earth, and food for all the little children of the world. However, Skaer and those annoying Cardinals ruined all that. Not that I am bitter.

Still, I think the holiday season is one that brings out the best in most people, with one obvious exception. So, just for you, a little cheer:


Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Mr. Contractor hung by the window with care,
In hopes that more laborers soon would be there.

The installers and techs were all tuckered out,
For the year of ’06 had proven quite stout.
The residential salespeople had all done their part,
And commercial business was plumb off the chart.

But, nearby arose a monstrous chatter,
He sprang from his chair to see what was the matter.
Away from the window he flew like a flash,
Slipped on a pencil and fell on his ... , uh, head.

The lights in the room were shut down at dusk,
The place emptied out with the five o’clock rush.
When what to his wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature dispatcher, with a 12-pack of beer.

“Have a seat, old boy, this won’t be quick,”
He knew in a moment it wasn’t St. Nick.
“I’m the ghost of HVAC Past, shut up and listen.”
More rapid than water, the beers sure did glisten.

“With OSHA on your back for a safety violation,
Still you added the 401k to keep peace in the nation.
Your employees are really what matter most,
Keep them, you’ll prosper, without them you’re toast.”

A blast from the Nextel radio did christen,
“I’m the ghost of HVAC Present, shut up and listen.
13 SEER sales helped things this season,
Don’t count on it next year, I say with good reason.”

The beers were ebbing but the talk was still flowing,
“I’m the ghost of HVAC Future, you know the gig.”
But, then a jolly old elf sprang down through the roof,
The contractor laughed in spite of the damage.

“Leave this man alone, can’t you see that he’s bobbin’?”
A band-aid he placed on the poor contractor’s noggin.
With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
The contractor now knew he had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
There were bonus checks for all; he turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
“Sorry about the roof,” and up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh that looked like a Chevy,
And he pulled out of that place with a foot that was heavy.
But he was heard to exclaim, ’ere he peeled out of sight,
“Happy HVAC to all, and to all a good-night!”

Publication date:12/25/2006