There could be few more suitable images to illustrate my Christmas message to all readers of Salut! (I say "all" but my friend and Salut! contributor Bill Taylor's correctly suggests that I surely don't offer warm greetings to everyone I know).
The photo shows my great pal Pete Sixsmith winding down after another hard day's work as Santa in the North East. It is not strictly true to say he accepts the work as a means of avoiding having to watch Sunderland play, though that is certainly one of the perks.
I decided Pete's photo so brilliantly captured the spirit of the season that it should appear with my greetings at each of the Salut! sites: this one, Salut! Sunderland (footie), Salut! Live (folk music/folk-rock) and Salut! North (North-eastern nostalgia).
Traffic towards this site is not what it once was, and is certainly not comparable to the readership of Salut! Sunderland, which continues to attract lots of visitors despite the relegation and mostly poor performances of its raison d'être.
Salut! mostly toddles along on 50-100 visits a day though levels do rise much, much higher on occasion. It remains a useful location for sharing work of mine that has been published elsewhere, and for presenting the writing of others (Bill being the obvious example).
Crucially, if someone needs to know what I write about, and how, I can then direct them towards this site. It can lead to other work and sometimes does, and the archive alone makes it worth maintaining.
Not everything is reproduced here. At present, I write mainly for The National, the daily newspaper published in Abu Dhabi that I am proud to have helped create. If you really want to know more about that historic event - arguably the last time the world would see the launch of a major new newspaper - check out the archive for April 2008.
No need to digress further. Let me just wish all I know, with just a few exceptions, a wonderful Christmas Day and a happy, healthy 2018.