Christmastime 2001

Dear Fellow Humbugs,

Well, this indeed has been a trying year in Bedrock, Indiana, as global events have been felt all the way down even to our humble burgh. Perhaps the most tragic of the local consequences of world happenings occurred when old Harold Simms was seen handcuffed and behind bars for his misdirected ire at Osama bin Laden. After donning his World War I uniform he was caught taking potshots at a group of Mexican roofers whom he mistook for Islamic terrorists he thought were trying bring down Reverend Peterson’s rectory with their hammers. Fortunately no one was injured, and within a few days Harold was released into his wife’s custody after it was learned that shortly before his rampage he had quaffed prodigious amounts of Mrs. Simms’ famous lemonade which she makes in an old Ford radiator in her backyard.

Hank Saddler likewise made something of a fool of himself in mid-September when he verbally accosted one of Bedford’s resident aliens in the street and publicly tongue-lashed him for his Arab sympathies. When it was later explained to him that the “Muslim” in question was actually a Zoroastrian Hank felt really ashamed, and by way of apology he sent the gentleman a life-size poster of Guy Williams. The gesture was so touching no one had the heart to tell Hank the difference between Zorro and Zoroaster.

Then there was the week when the county courthouse was closed after one of Ezra Weems’ sheep wandered into the building and the secretaries believed they were under a massive anthrax attack. They became especially alarmed when Miss Stringler went into one of her sneezing fits that turned out to be due more to her allergic reaction to wool than to any malevolent designs. The courthouse reopened for business after Miss Stringler was given a month’s supply of Allegra (though she suspected it to be Cipro and seemed considerably less agitated with the delusion).

Not all the effects have been negative, however, as patriotism has definitely been on the rise. Even the town weirdo Marvin Winsler has temporarily set aside his mission as emissary from the planet Glaxon to support the cause. He was rather disappointed that the recruiting office turned down his attempt to enlist, given his decades of experience as captain of a Glaxonian interplanetary gunship, but even that setback hasn’t dampened his support for our brave troops overseas.

The Cratons themselves have fared reasonably well this year, in spite of the urban insanities so frequent in this wayward thorp. Ben, the eldest offspring, is finishing up his sentence in the local school system and is making plans to subject himself to real study at Purdue University next year. In the wake of 9/11 he has given up his dream of becoming the first to achieve millionaire status through panhandling and has decided instead to become an engineer so he can build weapons of mass destruction for the U.S. Navy.

Jonathan is completing his first year of high school and has survived reasonably well — but then, he’d learned survival from being subjected all these years to his older sibling’s thrashings. He still enjoys being first- (and only-) chair bassoon in the school band, but in spite of his age has no interest in learning to drive. We think he got run over one too many times in his youth to express a great fascination with cars.

Stephen remains the family computer addict, and his brothers have begun taking bets whether he’ll be the first in history to have an internet marriage complete with virtual kids and online potty training. His parents don’t mind his avocation so much, however, hoping he’ll be the next Bill Gates and support them in their old age.

Speaking of, old John just keeps getting older. After finally giving up on ever establishing another audiology practice he decided to throw in the towel and go back into what heíd always loved most anyway. But seeing as that was illegal in the state of Indiana, he instead opened a music studio and is teaching violin and piano to area dilettantes. He hopes with the change of scenery he also can do a bit more composing before he starts decomposing.

Doctor Mom has survived the first full year with her new partner (or maybe that should be the other way around). She’s about ready to consider taking up teaching or supervising in a residency program somewhere, but until such an opportunity arises she continues to fulfill her life’s dreams by draining sebaceous cysts and performing other equally revolting procedures on the halt and maim of greater Bedrock.

Otherwise all the household keeps hanging on — though exactly to what remains debatable — and wishes all their faithful readers a happy holiday season and a peaceful 2002. Until then, we offer our readers the opportunity to read an alternate viewpoint from the perspective of the eldest issue who again this year asked for equal time.

Benís version of the Christmas letter

::You walk in:: ...

...So I said to the guy, “It’s not a chicken, it’s a beaverĒ”... Oh! Hello. Sorry, didn’t see you there. You were probably too busy reading that stuff on the back of this page to even notice this was here, weren’t you? Well it is, and while you’re here I guess I have some sort of obligation to tell you the truth. The stuff on the back is, umm... How do you say? Ah yes, not quite up to snuff with the way things really are here in the land that time forgot.

Where to start, where to start? So many things happen here in ole Bedford it’s hard to keep up with it all. Why just today the front page proclaimed loudly to the masses the wonderful and exciting news that the Morning Bird Café just had its one-millionth customer. Ha! Indianapolis may have its “twenty people die in gang war” and San Francisco may have its “Earthquake destroys half the state,” but they ain’t got nothin’ on us here in Bedford. I mean, what’s so exciting about that stuff when you could have “Old man Hickok’s barn catches fire”? Whoooooeeeee! I’m still reeling over that one.

Well anyway, that’s a long story. Let’s talk about something much more ... interesting. Well, I guess that depends on your point of view. Who am I talking about? Why Stephen, of course. Ah yes, the Internet Addict of the decade. This child since last we met has been on the computer more hours than the number of women James Bond has ::cough:: known. We thought we had it bad last year with the dial-up connection, but oh no. In April we got cable, and there Stephen has sat for the past eight months, chatting, building web thingies, and doing other assorted geek things one does online. He even has an online “girlfriend” (though I still believe it’s some 30-year-old man ^_~). Oh, and one more thing about Stephen: To add to his vegetable state in front of the monitor, he has affixed a 6” TV and a Playstation to his “work area.&$#148 The madness never ends.

Now on to Jon. What about him? ::thinks:: Hmm. Maybe — no. Well perhaps — nah, thatís boring.... He’s 15? Now that I think about it, there isn’t much to say about him. He’s turned that grand age of 15. He’s the most wonderful thing to have around: great personality, and the girls just love him. Of course, then we usually wake up. The fact is he is 15. Need I say more? The little scoundrel is like a headache that has leased room in your brain. The kid never goes away. Oh well. Only a few more months and Iíll be rid of him.

Speaking of, yours truly is leaving. Okay, I don’t appreciate that applause. Moving on, I’m going to Purdue to become a Naval Officer, hopefully as an engineer of some sort — probably nuclear. Won’t that be fun? I’ll be designing and building nuclear weapons and weapon systems capable of blowing Mt. Everest into pixie dust.... Why are you all looking so nervous? Well, at least I’m doing something with my life, as apposed to those two.

::sigh:: Well, I see our time is about up. If you ever want to experience neverending joy and pleasure at every whim, come on up to Bedford. We’ll suit your and your family’s entertainment cravings. And while you’re up here, please come and get me and take me back with you. PLEASE! I really need outta here.... Listen, you gotta believe me! ::white coats come in:: No wait, I just... Hey, let me go! I just wanna leave! ::fades off into the distance:: Ahhhhh!!

— P.S. Merry Christmas ^_^

Ben and all the other Cratons

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