A Rakish Holiday: Xmas 2005

Xmas, 2005

Whew! I never seem to actually find the time to get this annual Christmas letter in the mail, but as always I have nothing but the best intentions. Every December I drag my typewriter down to the laundry room and spend a couple hours trying to get some thoughts down on paper, and every year the finished product just sits there gathering dust on my mother’s old sewing machine table. The post office is impossible this time of year, of course, and even jacked up on Xanax I can’t seem to drag my tired butt from the house. People just depress me, particularly when they get all lousy with Christmas spirit.

I don’t know how long things have gone on like they have, but it’s been a long time, let’s just say that. How time flies!

If I’d ever gotten around to sending out last year’s Christmas letter you would have heard all about my big plans to open a World of Kittens kiosk at the mall, but the deal fell through when Bobby wrecked his snowmobile last winter and had a string of “bad luck” at the casino. Bottom line: We maxed out our credit cards, and the bank refused to sign off on my loan.

I ended up going on eBay and selling most of the cat trinkets I bought at the Dollar Store, which was a learning experience. Cat people, it turns out, are for the most part difficult customers. Most of them, in fact, are crazy, and I got so much nasty feedback that the jerks at eBay terminated my account.

To be quite honest with you, Bobby’s been a mess (see above). I’ve been reading self-help books I pick up at the Goodwill, but it looks like Bobby might be a special case. That’ll come as no big surprise to most of you, of course, and at this point I guess I’ll just have to live with my mother’s “I told you so”s until the undertaker finally yanks the oxygen tubes out of her nose for good. Bobby had his first colonoscopy back in March, after he started throwing up even when he wasn’t drinking. They didn’t find anything wrong with him, and I suppose I should be grateful. It would almost be a relief, though, to find out that there was some medical explanation for his shiftless behavior.

I’m still trying to finish my novel about a Wiccan private detective that I started about ten years ago, but I’ve been stalled at fifty pages forever. I can’t seem to figure out a way to deal with the murder scenes that doesn’t give even me the creeps, and I recognize the need to make my detective more physically attractive so that I can spice things up with a romantic entanglement with the local deputy sheriff.

Gary, our oldest, became the first member of the family to graduate from college (an associate’s degree from Floyd Valley Junior College). Lord knows what that boy has had to overcome. He’s been living at home while he looks for a job, and it looks like he’ll be going to work one way or another after the first of the year. He takes after his mother in so many ways, and wants to be a writer. He apparently has offers from a number of trade publications (Insurance Pro, Midwest Concrete, and Polymers), and just has to make a decision. Gary’s still hoping to find a newspaper job at the last minute, but I tell him that right now it’s just important to get his foot in the door somewhere. All he has to do is look at his father to see what becomes of a man who never gets his foot in any doors.

I’m at my wit’s end with poor Candace, our seventeen-year-old. The girl never wanted a thing in the world other than to be a cheerleader, and that didn’t pan out (too heavy, not cheerful enough, I guess). Now she does nothing but listen to terrifying music and run around with a bad crowd. I’m hoping it’s just a phase, but at this point I’m preparing myself for the worst; she’ll probably have a baby in her belly long before she ever has a wedding ring on her finger.

Bobby Jr.’s fifteen now, and there’s a case of the apple not falling far from the tree if ever there was one. He’s been in and out of trouble in school, and can’t seem to keep it in his pants. When he’s not out chasing tail he sits around in his room playing video games. I realize he’s my son, and I should feel terrible admitting this, but I don’t feel a thing in the world for Bobby Jr.

One day this spring an albino squirrel came down the chimney into the house. It scared the living daylights out of me, and I got it into my head that something like that—a white squirrel with pink, beady eyes coming down the chimney—had to be some kind of sign or omen. I mean, that sort of thing will give a person the creeps.

I sometimes feel like there are demons in the world. I wonder if maybe I have too much hair, like the sun can’t get through to my head and my head can’t feel the light.

Back in the fall, before the darkness swallowed everything up, I was walking down to the Holiday store for a gallon of milk when I felt the bowels of the earth trembling beneath my feet. Dark angels descended into the uppermost branches of the trees along the sidewalks and, shrieking, began to shake loose leaves that were scattered on the wind. I swore I could hear, beyond the terrible shrieking of the angels, the howling of dogs and the rattling of china and silverware from behind the closed doors and windows of the houses up and down the street. I felt stepped upon, and collapsed in the grass alongside the sidewalk. As I lay there I thought I heard, from some place distant, a choir, which I hoped, perhaps, was a good sign, an indication of some blessed intervention. Perhaps, finally, God would erase my mind.

I’m always amazed at how much dust gathers in this house, heaps of it running along the surfaces and rims of everything. I can’t seem to do a thing about it.

I probably shouldn’t watch so much TV. And I wish that oven mitt would just shut the hell up.

Anyway, merry Christmas to you and yours. Hope you have a great New Year!