Christmastime 2013

Dear Yuletide Yokels,

As always, the year has been a trying one for our little band of stalwarts (or perhaps just “warts”) in Lawrence County, Indiana. It seems that all manner of trouble has befallen our beleaguered burg and has provided both consternation and constipation to many of its notable residents.

Old Harold Simms, who remains home with his doting wife, narrowly escaped another brush with the law recently as once again he drew the attention of Deputy Waxman when he donned his WWI uniform and paraded solo in front of the courthouse to protest the NSA’s invasion of his privacy. Fearing that Washington now knows all his internet habits, Harold has refused to visit any of his favorite gun and ammo sites and instead has driven his neighbors to new heights of dread as he presses his own ammunition in the shed next to his wife’s lemonade stand. Knowing that a stray grain of powder easily could catapult Harold and all his earthly belongings skyward in a flash, the neighbors have been lining their walls with bags of sand left over from the Fort Ritner beach party this past summer.

Washington likewise has plagued the local medical community this year, and even old Doc Ruebottom has been beside himself as he attempts to comply with all the new regulations. Still unsure where he will obtain sufficient amounts of the new medications prescribed by the law — he’s having a tough time finding fenny snake and howlet’s wing — he came nigh unto despair when his new assistant arrived in town wearing a grass skirt and carrying a small bag of nail parings. (The law appears to have been a boon to Jake Williams, however, as the stagnant pond down on his farm has become a phenomenally successful breeding ground for leeches, now being sought at top dollar by hospitals all across the land.)

Dr. Debbie likewise has not been unaffected by the goings-on in the Capitol. While she continues as best she can to heal the halt and maim, she is growing more and more weary of all the bureaucratic nonsense as they insist she spend more time seeing patients but then chastise her for not canceling patients so she can sit in meetings where they can tell her to see more patients. She has reached the point of looking longingly toward retirement, but as things now stand she feels that probably isn’t going to be an option before age 97. In the meantime she’s considering joining the Rockettes just to know that she’s doing something worthwhile (and something that hopefully won’t be regulated by Washington).

In addition to Debbie’s medical trials, the Cratons have been taught the art of patience by several other notable events that have transpired during this fateful year. For one, they endured major surgery on the 111-year-old house they’ve inhabited for the last three decades — work that no one really wanted done but which seemed rather necessary after it rained in Stephenֹs room one stormy night. For several weeks in May, various scenes from the 1986 film The Money Pit kept recurring in their dreams, only to be found reality upon awaking.

But we suppose the biggest news of the year involved neither medicine nor leaky roofs. Middle son Jonathan plighted his troth in October when he and Annie Leonard nupted together in Florida. The loving couple subsequently removed themselves to Seattle (Kirkland, actually) where they have established their presence in hopes of infesting the region with at least a handful of Cratons. The parents still aren’t convinced whether the relocation is actually due to the couple’s affinity for that region or whether they felt it a safe distance from Bedford.

Big brother Ben resides still in Lafayette where he continues to ponder Hewlett-Packard’s survival, and earlier this year he became enamored of a lovely young lass who, implausibly, seems equally enamored of him. Whether the attraction is really to Ben or to his cats, no one seems to be complaining. Ben also continues to write in his spare time, which his father has urged him repeatedly to do since he wants to find out how the novel ends.

Young brother (note that the term “little” does not apply as he technically is tallest of the offspring) Stephen continues to work and reside in Manila most of the year, though his parents were exceedingly glad that he came home early this year for his brother’s wedding. The early departure allowed him to miss the excitement in the Philippines when one of the strongest typhoons on record slammed into the island. He wishes he’d been there to help out, but his parents rather selfishly were glad he wasn’t. Despite the devastation (most of which was a few hundred miles from where he works) he plans to return in January.

Old Pop just keeps getting older ... which he supposes is better than the alternative ... and contemplates whether there is anything to be noted in the fact that his children tend to migrate to all points of the compass. After all, it’s not as though there’s nothing for them in the great metropolis of Bedford. But that being what it is, he continues to teach music to area yoots and to scribble notes as he is able. And while still maintaining his license to practice audiology, he wonders after all these years if it wouldn’t have been better if he’d become a shepherd.

But in spite of all the travails of the past year, both good and bad, we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful (and maybe a tad less eventful) New Year.

John Douglas & Debbie Craton
(plus cats & turtles)

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