Christmastime 1991

Dear Fellow Recessionosaurs,

The Craton family and hostelry bid you a warm and/or friendly holiday greeting from the Mesozoic epoch (read “Indiana”).

This has been an exceptionally eventful year for everyone, especially for John who has yet to accept the fast-paced social life of Bedford. As just one example, it wasn’t too many months ago that Reverend Peterson hand-painted the parallel stripes on the church parkingt lot, drawing the largest crowd seen in this county since Jake Williams’ mule fell into the stone quarry out past the 37 by-pass back in '85. The Reverend became something of a local cause celebre when he accidentally tipped his bucket of bright yellow paint and old Widow Bartlett swooned and fainted after swearing she saw the face of John the Baptist in the fulvid aftermath. An all-out fistfight was narrowly averted when Bobby Jim Martin, the town agnostic, said it looked more like Richard Nixon to him. Tempers flared and the debate escalated till Deputy Waxman ended the melee by surreptitiously hosing down the pavement. A few offhand comments by two or three disappointed spectators that the ensuing mess had the appearance of the Spirit descending in the form of a dove were not much taken into account, since by that time Harold Simms’ wife had run out of lemonade anyway and most folks were ready to head home and watch the last episode of “Dallas.”

Last July the Cratons got a recall notice on their daughter, Inge Zubiaur, whom they had borrowed through a foreign-exchange program from a nice Basque family in Spain. Her departure left them with a few more empty spaces in their lives, though several nice people have commented that they really haven’t noticed any more empty spaces than were there before she arrived. It’s unclear just what is meant by that, but whatever it means, Inge is back in sunny Spain recovering nicely from her Hoosier sojourn.

All three Craton offspring are doing well, especially considering the gene pool whence they sprang. Benjamin is now in second grade and seems to be enjoying school. He is particularly fond of his science class. His teacher has been somewhat reticent about his progress ever since his project about nuclear reactors went slightly awry, though she did glow with pride for several weeks afterward. We’re all quite pleased that Ben has shown an interest in becoming a science teacher when he grows up. At least for the time being he has given up the notion of aspiring to become an armed terrorist.

Jonathan is basking in his second year of preschool this year and gets a kick out of showing all the little first-year preschoolers the ropes. He continues exhibiting a phenomenal interest in philology and oratory and is utterly fascinated with the spoken word. We have him pegged to be an attorney someday — one who will no doubt delight in prosecuting elder siblings who subject their younger counterparts to indiscriminate thrashings. (Being subject to such thrashings himself, however, we fear his brain may have become affected to the point that he may conceivably go into politics.)

Stephen exults in his two-ness every day and uses it for all it’s worth, glorying in his two healthy lungs and strong right arm. He’ll turn out to be either a baseball star or an ace grenade thrower in the future, judging from his ability to project household objects across the dining room.

As for Debbie, it’s not certain what she’ll be when she grows up. For the time being she continues poking around on sick people and tossing babies. She recently got herself a Nordic Track and works out on it assiduously every morning. She says she’s very disappointed in it, though, as it is really hard to lug out of the house every day to begin her cross-country trek. Some of the neighbors have complained about the damage to the lawns, too, so no one knows just how long she can keep it up.

John continues his work with Israeli intelligence, but won’t talk about it. He still poses as an audiologist at the hospital and, much to everyone’s surprise (if not to say chagrin) was ordained to the diaconate in the church not long ago. The precise reasoning behind tha selection remains a mystery, but some are suggesting this was a good way to get him to gather the sticks for his own pyre. He was recently overheard arguing with an ecclesiastic and saying something sounding like, “You can’t excommunicate me — I convert!” It remains to be seen just how it will all turn out.

Otherwise, the Cratons have all been busy trying to get in Santa’s good graces since they’ve sunck another life’s fortune into their own money pit and expect little left over for the typical yuletide commercialism. They’re also gearing up for another exchange daughter in 1992. This time they’d like to host someone from a really exotic country, like maybe Russia or Cleveland. But they wish you all happy holidays anyway.

Till next time, with apologies to Ann Landers,
John, Debbie, Ben, Jon and Stephen Craton (sans Inge)

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