Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Christmas traditions, a new tree, and a gift idea

It's a bit early for the final 2017 Publisher’s Notes, but with Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on the next two Mondays, this is our last Monday newspaper of the year.

Gazing out my office window, it occurs to me that we have three flag poles on the front law where the kids from the Mill Falls Charter School play. The school rents space in the Union Leader building. So do we, since we no longer own the property.

Flag poles, kids, and Christmas remind me of the great movie, “A Christmas Story.” That’s where Ralphie watches two buddies in a double and triple-dog dare concerning the pros and cons of touching one’s tongue to the school flag pole in wintertime.

Hmmm. Three flagpoles. Three grandsons. Such symmetry. But their mother says I had better not suggest it to them.

Watching Ralphie is as much a part of Christmas as seeing George Bailey and mean old Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I did my best this year to add to family holiday lore by helping the lady of the house with a new little glam Christmas tree, which really isn’t a tree (not even a fake one) so much as, as grandson Mike put it, “a bunch of bulbs.”

Mike has a way with words. Asked by his grandmother if he knew the Christmas story, he said, yes, “It’s about Baby Jesus.”

And who was the baby’s mother?

“Mario,” said Mike.

My Christmas question: Who knew that it’s a no-no to remove the lights from a pre-lit tree?

I thought I was being pretty darned helpful (although it did seem some of them were very well stuck into the thing.) Why would the tree-maker want to limit a buyer’s artistic instincts to move the lights around?

Beats me. But my words of advice: If you see one of these things, don’t touch it. Don’t even go near it. If you do, you may be in danger of involuntarily decreasing the surplus population.

Here’s a better idea: Buy Robert Perreault’s new “Manchester” book.

It’s available at the Manchester Historic Association’s Millyard Museum gift shop as well as its Amherst Street research center. Barnes & Noble on South Willow Street has it as well.

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words but in this case, it is Perreault’s words that overshadow the pictures, which show the city as it changed from 1971 through 2005.

Perreault knows the city inside and out and this volume, part of a national “Images of Modern America” series, contains a wealth of the Queen City’s history as he charts its ever-changing landscape.

He writes of the millyard, downtown, churches, cultural centers, fires, parades and politicians.

“Manchester” would make a nice gift under the Christmas tree, provided that the tree is identifiable as such and is still standing.

Merry Christmas.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or on Twitter at @deucecrew.