Christmastime 2006

Dear Mirthfully Mystical Merrymakers,

Yes, it is that time of year again when yet another wayward missive wends its circuitous course to your door from beautiful downtown Bedrock in order to regale you with worthless drivel about the lives of the Cratons and their unwilling denizens.

Last year we had to report on the sad news of the loss of old Harold Simms’ house to make way for the new Wal-Mart. The result of the catastrophe strained the Simms’ marriage to the breaking point, and the two have since parted ways. The community has missed seeing them out together as the pair gave rise to no end of local prattle (not that Bedfordites really needed the encouragement). But the heartfelt sympathies for their troubles was short-lived as their erstwhile allies who had stood with them against the commercial leviathan as it razed their domicile flocked with enthusiasm to the store’s grand opening in August. A whole subculture has formed within its Wally walls where roving groups spend the better part of every evening playing hide-and-seek in the aisles and dining on Ding Dongs and pork rinds. Harold has not appeared to have missed his old compatriots overmuch, however, as he was last seen enjoying life at the French Lick Casino with a voluptuous young golddigger entwined about his arm. We’re certain he will enjoy her sinewy charms at least until his wagers end up lining The Donald’s velvet wallet. Mrs. Simms has found new meaning for life as well, now serving as Reverend Peterson’s housekeeper-cum-bedwarmer. Some of his parishoners were a bit taken aback at first by the untoward arrangement, but they seem now to have accepted the exigency of the circumstances after a parish-wide meeting at which Mrs. Simms’ famous lemonade was served to great adulation. The scene would have made Bacchus proud, and even Deputy Waxman was predisposed to turn a blind eye to the spectacle of schoolage children dancing suggestively on the tables in the church fellowship hall.

Things have not gone so well this year for Mayor Frump, however, who managed to get himself in a lot of hot water over ... well, water. When the fluoridation equipment at the water treatment plant broke down, he would not authorize the expenditure to have it fixed but instead told the councilmen to keep it mum. He’d hoped no one would notice, especially given the relatively small number of full sets of teeth in the community, but word eventually leaked out (as it were) and soon the local dentists organized for a decay-in on the courthouse lawn. The scene defied description, but suffice to say that Frump was forced to release the funds for the repairs even though it meant having to put on hold the construction of the new clog-dancing stage at Otis Park.

The Cratons have fared little better, as Dr. Debbie has continued her harrowing experience as chief of staff at the local hospital. Finally tiring of her neverending battles with Medicare, she opted to sell her practice to the hospital in October and became an employee of the facility. She hasn’t minded the change too much as it has freed her from many of the headaches she’s endured for the last 22 years, though she is not as crazy about punching the time clock every morning as she goes in to heal the halt and maim. Her tap-dancing lessons still manage to keep her on her toes, however, and reasonably sane.

Ben, who was supposed to have graduated from Purdue in May, gained some experience dealing with political correctness on campus by mistakenly taking a course on the history of the South from a Yankee carpetbagger professor. As a true son of the South, Ben refused to play the party line and defended his ancestors, but he ended up having to fight the Battle of Gettysburg all over again. As the professor occupied the heights, Ben’s “Pickett’s Charge” resulted in academic defeat, and thus he was left having to take one more three-hour course this fall to finish his degree. He also suffered a mild defeat with the gods of love as his girlfriend of four years broke up with him this summer, but he has since realized that she is the real loser in that battle. He hopes to complete his degree in December and in the meantime has landed a good but frustrating job with a local computer company where he spends his days gleefully dealing with the IWB (Idiots Without Borders). Currently in line for a promotion, he hopes soon to begin looking for comparable, but more sane, work — and perhaps a Southern belle — in Nashville within the next year or so.

Jonathan is now a sophomore at Indiana University where he occupies himself with computer gaming, a girlfriend, and studying ... pretty much in that order. As he has made the dean’s list every semester thus far his parents don’t complain too much, though they would enjoy seeing him engaged occasionally in something a tad more lucrative than defeating the Golems of the Underworld. His Japanese studies have gone well, however, and he is already making arrangements for a semester of study in Japan his senior year, assuming North Korea hasn’t nuked the island before then.

Stephen continues being the entrepreneur of the family and, though still a high-school junior, works for companies worldwide from the privacy of his upstairs room. Lately he’s even begun making videos which are sure to land him a spot someday on Comedy Central. They reveal a son the Cratons never knew they had. He still has no definite plans for where he will attend college but seems to be waiting for the one with the best offer or the cutest coeds, whichever comes first.

Old Pop (aka John) continues growing older but did actually see some small fruit fall from his tree of labor earlier this year with his music. It seems that several European orchestras and musicians have discovered his compositions, and he even made his way over to the Netherlands for his European debut in April (April Fool’s Day, appropriately enough), and found the Dutch to be very welcoming — to the point that he was loathe to return to dreary Bedrock. (But then, he probably would have found Outer Mongolia more conducive to haute couture than Bedford.) While enjoying the luxury of having his works become known in Europe, he has yet to find many willing accomplices to introduce his music here in the United States — proving, perhaps, that American audiences have better taste than their European counterparts.

For now, however, the Cratons wish one and all a very happy holiday season and a quick recovery from the Democrat takeover of Congress.

John, Debbie, Ben, Jonathan & Stephen Craton

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