Christmastime 2016

Dear Red-State Wranglers,

Greetings to one and all from beautiful downtown Bedrock, a place where Harold Simms and Deputy Waxman are more real than most physical inhabitants.

Like all the others, this has been an eventful year for our lowly burg. Probably the biggest news of the year was that old Harold Simms’ wife Geraldine won the lottery back in August — not the big lottery, but big enough that she built the two of them a new home and bought Harold a vintage 1953 Studebaker to replace the one he lost in the WalMart standoff of ’06. It is unclear whether the Simmses have been significantly changed by their newfound wealth, but the neighbors indicate that Harold remains just as idiosyncratic as ever, especially now that he has funds to expand his notorious coprolite collection (many specimens of which the neighbors are convinced are of much more recent vintage than the miocene period). Geraldine suspects that Harold plans to vie with the Poozeum for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

It is certainly a given that little else could land anything Bedfordian in the record book, though we are pleased to report that there has been a significant drop in the unemployment rate of late. One is not likely to find this statistic mirrored in any governmental data, however, as most of the hiring stems from a growing need for meth-lab technicians. The growth spurt has markedly improved employment opportunities for chemistry majors at the local university, which in turn has calmed the uproar over the minimum-wage battle that plagued the community’s peace last year.

Bedford also has vastly expanded its famous rails-to-trails project, a development that has been monumentally successful and hailed by all — possibly because of all the people seeking to escape. The city council noted with what aplomb so many locals used the trails and so they now have extended them far out of town so that there is less chance of turning back. Jake Williams has proposed posting armed guards to prevent hikers’ returns, mostly because, as he says, it’s only “godless liberals” using the trails anyway.

And of course the national election had everyone up in arms this year as well, an event that for once allowed all the locals to thumb their noses at nearby Bloomington (otherwise known as the San Francisco of the Midwest). Even the local cheese factory got into the fray and ceased production of all except block Parmesan, which they forthrightly advertised with the catchy phrase of “Make America Grate Again.”

Though the election results pleased all but a small handful of local die-hards, it did result in a disappointing consequence for the Anglican parish here that had only this summer finally replaced Rev. Peterson after he surreptitiously left town in 2008. No sooner had the new pastor settled in to life in 19th-century Indiana than he was called back to Bloomington to serve as grief counselor for IU students following the election.

Regardless, the Cratons have continued to maintain their own degree of sanity throughout the revolving turmoils, though now as a family spread far and wide. Eldest son Ben remains blissfully married in Lafayette, and he recently changed jobs so that he is no longer on the Homeland Security watch list. While tolerating the new bureaucratic insanity of his current place of employ, he still wishes he could retire to his woodworking shop and spend his days making walnut thunder mugs instead.

Middle son Jonathan also remains blissfully married out on the Left Coast where he and Annie are in the process of opening their own game store just outside of Seattle. Having been a long-time game aficionado, Jon evidently is following the example of his bibliophile father when he opened a bookstore principally to be able to buy his own books wholesale.

Youngest son Stephen remains blissfully unmarried for the nonce and this year has been off seeing America. After having covered Asia, Europe, and now the U.S., his folks aren’t sure where he may be off to next, though the brochures he’s been receiving in the mail lately detailing civilian excursions to nearby planets does have them a bit concerned.

Dr. Debbie has had a rather sad year in that her 89-year-old mother passed away in May. Though not entirely unexpected, it came rather suddenly one weekend. Nevertheless, Debbie continues her daily battle against disease, pestilence, and bureaucratic nonsense in the medical field. Like son Ben, she too would like to retire, though given the current state of medicine that looks less and less likely before the turn of the next century. In lieu thereof, she decided to take her loving husband on a week-long trip to Disney World this past fall, just in time to experience Hurricane Matthew. They survived the ordeal — and each other, which was quite a feat in itself as it was the first time since offspring emerged that they’d been in each other’s presence 24/7; neither led the other into the gator pit.

As for old John, he did officially retire from audiology last December 31, though it was an inauspicious event seeing as he hadn’t practiced his craft during most of the preceding two decades. Instead of going for more continuing education every year, he sits now in his studio/man cave and harangues music students and decomposes. He recently finished a children’s opera for a singing school in Spain, and has found great delight in composing works for children. He says it seems to be a better fit for his degree of intellectual maturity.

Be that as it may, the Cratons wish one and all a very Merry Christmas and prosperous (if not preposterous) 2017.

John Douglas & Debbie Craton
(plus cats & turtles)

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