While December 25 may mean Christmas to many, it has a more profound meaning to me. It means that I have only 12 days until the beginning of the Carnival season here in New Orleans. That may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but as the manuscript writer and narrator for four Carnival balls and the announcer of six street parades at historic Gallier Hall, it marks the beginning of a very busy time for me and one that forces a crunch of creativity. While few understand how much I slave away over the tableaux (or scenes) of each ball, the end result is not unlike a play with lighting, music and book. These components all contribute to the benefit of the whole. There is nothing more satisfying to me than being able to put into fruition a manuscript with entrances and accompanying music for the royal courts, officers and captains for each of the krewes (or Carnival groups) for whom I write these tableaux. These balls will begin in earnest on The Feast of the Epiphany for those in the Catholic world or, as Shakespeare would perhaps colloquially remind us, on Twelfth Night. That night is always January 6 and with Mardi Gras stated as February 24 this coming year, I have only a little over seven weeks before it's all over.