Christmastime 1994

Dear Friends, Romans, and Country Bumpkins,

The Cratons send tidings of Republican joy on this, another holiday under the Clinton administration.

What a year this has been for our hapless heroes! They all knew they were in for trouble the way the year began over at the Tucker place. In addition to the standard fireworks display that the county puts on out behind the Tuckers’ barn each New Year (three dozen Black Cats, a couple Roman candles, and a few rounds of mortar fire), old Harold Simms decided to spice things up with a nifty device he’d made to attach to the exhaust of his '53 Studebaker. We surmise it might have gone well had Jake Williams’ mule not been spooked at the last minute and charged the fireworks arena. The resulting fracas cost the Tuckers most of their barn, the toolshed, and the roof of their chicken coop. They were able to recover nearly all their losses from the sale of buffalo wings the following week, but it did put a damper on the evening at the time.

Dr. Debbie has survived her first year of political life with reasonable aplomb, having thwarted several assassination attempts while serving on the local school board. Fate played against her on May 10, howevere, as the eclipse forced her to drive her little red car (otherwise known as her Firstborn) into a parking sign. No one was injured, but the driver’s door was effectively circumcized. She was able to vent some of the year’s frustrations this summer when she became commandant of Stalag Summer Camp for a week. She seemed to have enjoyed herself, though several campers are reported to have told her sons that they now understand why she’s called the “Mom of Terror” at home.

Benjamin is nearly 11 and still amuses himself by trying out various electrical circuits on his brothers. At one point his parents were considering a military career for him since he recently gave up pacificism in favor of defending his siblings against a neighbor boy four time his weight. (He reasons that damage inflicted by any outside source might contaminate his own research on his kinsmen.) Ben, however, following in his father’s footsteps, has embarked instead on a musical career, having taken up the viola in the school orchestra. The cat’s opinions notwithstanding, his family is pleasesd with his choice of the viola over percussion, though Ben is a bit flummoxed trying to figure a way to incorporate viola technique into the rap genre.

Eight-year-old Jonathan’s life has taken on new meaning since he acquired three pet turtles this summer. Not only has he learned a great deal about responsibility and how to develop some elemental parenting skills from his caring for the turtles, he also has taken great interest in watching them mate repeatedly throughout the season. He is always quite glad to share this information with the girls at church — we haven’t inquired yet about the kids at school, but so far his parents haven’t been called in for any conferences.

Little Stephen has given up piano for whining and has become very accomplished at it. He is also developing a growing interest in cooking and may someday become a chef de cuisine. His parents hope so, anyway, considering that they can never prepare anything to his liking. He and his middle brother had a serious falling out recently, though, over whether he should experiment with a new recipe he found for turtle soup.

Papa John’s year has had its highs and lows, sometimes concurrently — as witnessed last March on a trip with the family to Disneyworld. Since John isn’t particularly prone to motion sickness, he was unaffected by the rather buoyant flight enjoyed on this excursion, but those around him seemed resentful of this and decided to use him as target pracrice during the plane’s (and their) sundry upheavals. John has long maintained that most people vomit out of spite, and this episode only served to confirm his suspicion. He did not give up airline travel as a result, however, and escaped the country’s blithering July heat this year by going to the International Congress of Audiology in Canada. There he became friends with a delegate from Russia, and the two of theme shared several evenings at local bistros reminiscing about their good old days with the KGB. Since he returned to the States he has been plagued with a good deal of stress, what with first the baseball strike and now the hockey lockout. He fears that soon the labor dispute between the players and owners of the North American Curling League will interrupt that season as well and put and end to all real meaningful existence.

The Cratons have imported another daughter this year, this one from Japan. (Word had already spread throughout most of the European continent that this was one family to avoid.) Ryoko Nejime, vintage 1977, hails from Fukuoka City, Japan, and has tolerated the Craton household rather well so far, feeling that for once a limited knowledge of English may actually be to her advantage. Her American brothers like her very much, except for the terrible example they feel she sets vis-a-vis study habits, since she actually spends up to four hours each evening doing the “H” words. (That’s homework, for you Missouri readers.)

But between all the children, two practices, two cats, three turtles, and a bookstore, most of the Cratons still find time to think of their old friends (and a few of their younger ones as well), and they wish them a joyful holiday and prosperous (and capital-gains-tax-indexed-to-inflation) New Year!

John, Debbie, Ben, Jon, Stephen, Ryoko, Dixie, Miss Marple, Shelby, Shelley, Hissy,
and any other residents, known or unknown, residing with the Craton household

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