I have to be honest – I was having a hard time coming up with a good column for December. I’ve exhausted the sentimental stories about my family (at least for now).

I didn’t really want to weight in on a “big issue.” (Who has time to worry about troubling issues during the holidays, anyway?)

And how many times can I subtly suggest that you help us out by mentioning to our advertisers that you read about their products or services in the Advocate? (At least once more, I guess.)

So just when I was about to start writing about the new dog my family adopted from the SPCA, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a fax filled with all kinds of happy holiday cheer.

Several weeks ago, we commissioned a nationally known research and circulation firm to conduct a 10-minute telephone survey with about 200 randomly selected households within the Advocate’s distribution area. These households are among the 62,000 that receive the Advocate each month.

After six years, we wanted an update about how we’re doing. And I don’t mind telling you, according to this survey, we’re doing pretty darn well.

Did you know, for instance, that more than 94 percent of households in our target distribution area receive – and read – the Advocate every month? (That compared with 55 percent in a similar survey three years ago.)

And of those same households receiving and reading the Advocate, only 43 percent subscribe to the Morning News?

In fact, nearly 62 percent said you’d be willing to subscribe to the Advocate for $15-$20 annually. (Thanks for the vote of confidence, but go ahead and spend your money on holiday gifts – we don’t have any subscription plans in the works.)

Did you know that more than 80 percent of you say Advocate advertisements “always” or “often” affect your buying decisions?

Did you know that 94 percent of our readers have attended or graduated from college, and 61 percent earn more than $35,000 annually?

Did you know that of the neighborhood families with children under the age of 18, more than 83 percent of these children attend a public school? But that nearly 70 percent of neighborhood families are “interested in learning more about private schools in our area?”

Just for the heck of it, we asked how many people in our target distribution area have an Internet connection in their home. The answer: 9.4 percent. And those connected spend an average of 10 hours monthly on-line.

And perhaps the most gratifying response, from a personal viewpoint, came to the question: How much time do you spend reading the Advocate each month?

More than 97 percent of you spend 1-2 hours with our magazine each month and more than 70 percent of you said you keep the Advocate in your home up to four weeks.

Those of you who read the Advocate every month and who frequent our neighborhood advertisers are responsible for our continued success. And together, we’re making this corner of Dallas just a little bit smaller and more neighborly.

So from all of us at the Advocate, thank you very much for your support, and have a great holiday and happy new year.

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