Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas In Flyover Country, 2020

 A Mr. Cranky's neighborhood episode 

                                       Image by Nita Knott at 

This is: A weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids and my great-grandkids — the Stickies — to advise them and haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — A Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. Viewing via tablet/monitor is highly recommended for maximum enjoyment.

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Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice." -Dave Berry

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

Recently, when I swung open the door of my humble but comfortable chambers seeking relief from a certain telltale pressure men of a certain age are prone to with a frequency unimaginable to their distantly younger selves, I immediately noticed a strong, pleasant, familiar yet momentarily unidentifiable, smell. 


I had to pee and some of the residents of Casa de Chaos had installed a REAL Christmas tree while I was busy reading, writing, and not doing any arithmetic in my humidity-monitored (I've got a gauge), no bathroom room.

I'm subject to dry skin when one of the oldest, still operating furnaces in Flyoverland is running which leads to excessive scratching and fever dreams if my cheap but effective humidifier isn't running on high.


We've been living in this large, drafty but mostly comfortable (the landlord doesn't like to fix things unless it becomes unavoidable) house for 13.5 years and have never had a real Christmas tree. 

As to artificial trees, it was discovered that an accidental embarrassment of riches had accumulated in the midst of the piles of kindling stored under the house over the years (our basement) and now the Stickies all have sparsely decorated Christmas trees in their bedrooms.

This serves to remind me that, once again, I've failed to purchase a Festivus Pole, it's probably all for the best. 

The traditional Airing of Grievances and demonstrations of Feats of Strength, while the Wuhan Flu is still ravaging the Republic might not be a good idea. 

I do like that smell though, although it feels like something is missing... and I'm not talking about the Advent calendar, that as usual I also didn't buy, in spite of the fact I loved Advent calendars when I was a kid.

[Do they even still make Advent calendars, grandpa?]

I'm sure they do, they must, right?... Wait a sec', I'll be right back. Unholy cow, how embarrassing. I, an admitted current events junkie, was unaware the making Advent calendars is a veritable industry. 

However, I no longer want one. 

I thought that Alyssa Milano might possibly be the anti-Christ but it turns out that it may be a man/woman/person named Katie Snooks who has apparently made unboxing the latest Love Honey Sex Toy Advent Calendar an annual tradition.  

I went a-googlin' and discovered that the Love Honey people have several competitors so if you're interested you should shop around before making a commitment. I'll be right back, I have to take a shower. 

[Man you're old.]   

I had hoped that there might be more Christmas lights hung in the hood this year for a couple of reasons. Alas, as usual, Christmas lights are few and far between.  

The number of homes that hung orange lights to celebrate Halloween ticked up slightly. A few people had actually started putting up outdoor Christmas decorations and lights prior to Halloween. 

It was probably plague defiance, but still... One house was actually decorated inside and outside by the day after Halloween.

[Have you been peering into windows again?]

That was just a nasty rumor, nothing was ever proven. I refer to the fact there's a fully decorated Christmas tree visible in a picture window.

[Tell us about the lights on display at Casa de Chaos.]

I must confess there aren't any. My daughter and son-in-law are, as usual, working their bums off and understandably lacking in energy and motivation. The firstborn Sticky now lives elsewhere and the rest of the tribe, all things considered, probably shouldn't be trusted on a ladder.  

[Well, what about...]

I'm a poster geezer for arthritis, ain't gonna happen. Did I mention we got a real tree this year? Very cool, but there's something missing... 

I ran into Picasso Man recently. He's still navigating the neighborhood, and our rustic sidewalks (does the phrase Ho Chi Minh trail suggest anything to you?), with a flimsy wheeled walker.

[Ho Chi what?]

Never mind. I complimented him, sincerely, on the full beard he's now sporting. He told me he just hates to shave. I also hate to shave but couldn't grow a respectable beard, or even a mustache, to save my life.

We agreed that Northern winters wouldn't be so bad if they didn't occur every single year. 

Also, that the large, endlessly bark-bark-barking dog that seems to spend most of its time, alone, in a small backyard,

And who was bark-bark-barking the entire time we were talk-talk-talking,

Deserves better masters than the dumpy and depressed looking couple living in the dumpy and depressed looking house with the small backyard. 

[Dogs have masters, cats have staff.]

When I returned home and was greeted by the smell of the real Christmas tree I figured out what was missing, bayberry candles. Does Glade, 99¢ at WallyWorld,  have a bayberry fragrance?

Evergreen and bayberry were what Christmas smelled like when I was a kid. 

Well... except for a couple of years when we had a hideous aluminum Christmas tree that you weren't supposed to hang lights on.

It was lit by a sort of spotlight that featured a spinning, four-color plastic wheel that revolved in front of a 1,000 watt light bulb that filled the house with the smell of plastic just about to melt.  

Poppa loves you,

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