The story goes that if the legendary composer and orchestrator Duke Ellington had met you, and gotten his hands on your mailing address, you’d have gotten a Christmas card from him.
It may not come at Christmas, but at some point during the year, his personally written and signed greetings would grace your mailbox.
“Duke Ellington and I exchanged Christmas greetings each year,” wrote Joe Delaney of the Las Vegas Sun. “Mine were sent in mid-December. Duke sent his when the spirit moved him.”
A reformed Ebenezer Scrooge may have pledged to “honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” but for Ellington, no reform was needed. His card list was extensive, and he faithfully wrote out his greetings while traveling, or when there was a little downtime between gigs. Friends said he found nothing strange in dropping some Christmas wishes in the dog days of summer, when chestnuts roasting on an open fire seemed a hellish idea.