Posted on Dec 11, 2022
Richard Lederer returned to our club for the December 8, 2022 meeting to spread a bit of holiday cheer. In particular, he described how Clement Clarke Moore’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” together with Thomas Nast’s illustrations, formed the basis for many iconic Christmas images including Santa Claus as a jolly elf who enters homes via the chimney. Richard provided some noted basic facts to support that the reindeers pulling Santa’s sleigh were all females. Reindeer are the only member of the deer family in which both males and females have antlers. However, males lose their antlers after the fall rut and thus by Christmas in December only females would have the antlers seen in Nast’s pictures.
He also told how “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens helped popularize “Merry Christmas”. Dickens wrote the book in a frenzied 6 weeks and made liberal use of “Merry” rather than the more staid “Happy”. In a well-known quote, Ebenezer Scrooge tells his Christmas-loving nephew Fred: “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
Richard is the author of over 50 books (he is grateful to the local publisher Waterside Productions in Cardiff for his latest publications) and his column “Lederer on Language” appears every other Saturday in The San Diego Union Tribune. He is the founding host of NPR’s “A Way with Words”.  Follow Richard at his website: