Christmastime 1993

Dear Holiday Person,

Greetings to all our friends and acquaintances worldwide from the People’s Republic of America, the land of the free, the home of the hardy*, and the first nation in the history of the world to tax its dead.

What a year this has been for the Craton household! So far they have actually all survived the reign of President Clinton and her husband and have even found a tin (if not silver) lining in the ebon nebulosity of this administration: Slick Willie does, after all, make the superlative argument for the reestablishment of monarchy. Even so, Dr. Debbie has been known to utter a profligacy or two when discussing the proposed health legislation of Commissar Hillary. Debbie felt that OSHA’s intrusion into the physician’s office was punishment enough for her politically incorrect concept of making a living without reliance on government subsidy, but now that Big Brotherette has put in her esteemed contribution it is growing unbearable. The Cratons have begin giving more than passing consideration to taking advantage of the new NAFTA treaty and relocating her office somewhere between the Yukon and the Yucatan.

The Craton children have grown both in stature and in odiousness during the past year, having discovered the joy of making any number of the wonderful variety of bodily sounds instrinsic to the digestive process. (And to think their Pop had nearly given up on their showing any signs of artistic endeavor!) They have also learned about the age-old American tradition of sibling rivalry and take great delight in arguing, fighting, harassing, and otherwise tormenting one another as their mutual respect for one another continues its downward trend.

Both Jon and Ben have begun — to their father’s great joy — taking karate lessons this fall, no doubt with malicious intent in mind as they eye each other rather hungrily throughout the sessions. Stephen, on the other hand, has elected for piano lessons instead, reasoning that music may indeed have charms to soothe the savage sibling breast. We think Stephen will do quite well once he stops using the side of his hand to strike the keys. His music has developed a disinctive style of its own and sounds rather like a synthesis of Franz Schubert and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Dr. Debbie has moved into her newest new office now, as the administrator seems to be trying to distance her farther and farther from the hospital proper. (We did note that he is no longer within rifle shot of her present laboratory window.) Debbie says she likes the new facility but admits that her clientele are just as sick as before.

As for John-Boy himself, he just keeps getting older. He and Dr. Wife decided that between their respective practices, the school and library boards, and all the other sundry interests and activities they pursue, they needed something else to fill in those 6+ minutes that occurred every other Thursday betweeen 3:00 and 4:45 in the morning when nothing else was going on; so together they chose to open a bookstore in literary Bedrock. The Penguin Bookery opened its doors to enlighten the general population in mid-November and has managed quiet well to take care of those empty moments in our heroes’ lives. Though some think John’s involvement with this endeavor is somewhat analogous to an alcoholic’s opening a bar, the real reason they have embarked upon the entrepreneurial trail is to be able to indenture their sons as they mature into even more indomitable rapscallions through the months and years ahead. (Not to mention that John hasn’t been able to find a copy of National Review in southern Indiana for the last eight years.) The grand opening, which was on December 4, was a tremendous success, not least because old Harold Simms did dramatic readings from his collection of Studebaker service manuals while his wife served samples of her renowned persimmon-pumpkin tarts. Local author Verlin Fleck was also present to autograph copies of his latest book, Pit Bullion: Treasures from Lawrence County Sinkholes. Eveyone is hoping the store continues to be a big success as it helps keep the regional poets’ society off the courthouse square.

In spite of all these developments, the whole Craton household seems relatively staid: The boys still enjoy experimenting with neighborhood animals, the cat continues to regurgitate on the dining room carpet, and Debbie does her best to put up with her husband’s theological quandaries. Everyone was saddened to hear about Cousin Vince, though, who is now serving 15 to 20 for calling a female coworker a “babe” over at the shoelace factory, but he seems to have a very nice cellmate for the time being. We don’ know who he’ll end up with after “Crush” is released, since his eight-month sentence for armed robbery and homicide is nearly over.

But they all hope for the best, and from their marvellously dysfunctional household to yours they would like to extend wishes that every family may have as unique a Christmas as they enjoy year by year.

* The traditional world “brave” has been found to offend the sensitivies of the Native American population and is therefore considered a non-politically correct term to use as an expression of the intrepidity of our nation’s founders, who were in fact a gang of sexist, homophibic white males who raped and pillaged the land and destroyed the pristine aboriginal culture it found here which had been at one with nature, subjugating the resident populace to a male-dominated civilization of repression and cruelty and ... well, may as well strike the word “free” too.

John, Debbie, Ben, Jon, and Stephen Craton

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