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December 26, 2001


Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
December 26, 2001


Christmas chaos . . . and then peace
No, of course not. The following scenario does not apply to you. Come join us anyway. Let’s sympathize with the family that is hurried, harried and harrassed this morning. Not to mention tired, weary, impatient, uptight and frustrated.
* * *
’Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house — chaos.
Nothing was where it was supposed to be. Stuff — and I mean that in the finest sense of the word — was strewn hither, thither and yon. That old safety slogan, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” was a joke at the big house on the hill.
“Where are my glasses?” Grandpa yelled.
“Look in the bathroom, Dear,” said Grandma sweetly. She knew that’s where he usually left them.
Grandpa goes to the bathroom and discovers he hasn’t put his false teeth in.
(For you English teachers, grammarians and language purists, I just realized I’m switching from past to present to future tense here. But that’s all right, because that’s how mixed-up this family was. Or is.)
Back in the kitchen, Grandpa yells louder, “Where are my dad-burn glasses?”
“Did you look in the bathroom, Dear?” Grandma asked gently.
Grandpa had forgotten why he went to the bathroom.
(Reminds me of the pastor who went to visit widow Elmira Elmore, the pillar of the church. After an hour of casual conversation, the pastor got serious. “Do you believe in the hereafter?” he asked.
“I sure do, Reverend. I go to the store, the post office, city hall. I go to the kitchen, the pantry, the bedroom. I go outdoors. I go to the bathroom. Everywhere I go, I wonder what I’m here after.”)
Well, Grandpa, Grandma and daughter searched the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room, the den, the kitchen and the pantry, and Grandpa’s glasses are nowhere to be found.
Grandpa grows increasingly irritated, and Grandma grows increasingly reassuring. “We’ll find them, Dear. They’ll turn up. Don’t worry.”
“Maybe you threw ’em away with the Christmas wrapping paper,” the son-in-law suggested sarcastically. He doubted that happend, but as his elderly in-laws headed for the trash cans in the garage, he was pleased. Finally, they were out of the house — for a little while, anyway.
Now the young son-in-law, husband and father could unload on the young daughter, wife and mother.
“I can’t believe the credit card bill you’ve run up this Christmas,” he snapped. “The minimum’s all we’ve paid since September. Can’t you see that the interest is killing us? Any suggestions how this family is ever gonna get out of debt?”
“Yeah, I have a few,” she snapped back. “What does a carton of cigarettes cost — $12, $15? And have you ever thought about a six pack a week instead of a case? And you’ve spent enough on hunting and fishing this year to more than. . .”
Her voice trailed off as she ran to the living room to separate two quarreling, fighting kids.
“Mama, he pulled the arm off my new Barbie!”
“She threw my fire truck at the TV first!”
“Both of you, go to your rooms! Right now! And don’t come out until I tell you.”
Back in the den, she told her husband, “I could use some help with these kids. They are driving me crazy.”
“And you can help me take down the tree and all these decorations. Tomorrow! I’m tired of them.”
“I tried to get you not to put up so much stuff this year. But no, you had to have more lights than anybody in the neighborhood. The house looks like a juke joint. Anyway, I’m playing golf with Stan tomorrow. Get your mama and daddy to help. They don’t do anything else around here.”
Grandpa and Grandma came back in the house. In Grandma’s hand were Grandpa’s broken glasses.
“Don’t worry, Dear,” she soothed. “We’ll get your glasses fixed tomorrow. You remember how Dr. Slater said he would take care of us, don’t you? I’ll read the funny paper to you in a little while. Don’t worry.”
The young couple, seething inside, was giving each other the silent treatment. They tried not to create a scene in front of Grandpa and Grandma.
But there was nothing silent about the kids. They were banging on the walls and screaming at the top of their voice.
The young daughter, wife and mother scurried about, picking up toys (already broken), putting up clothing gifts (which nobody needed or wanted), cleaning coffee stains on the carpet, picking up donut crumbs, frantically hurrying, hurrying frantically.
The young son-in-law, husband and father sat in a corner of the den, watching football on TV and thumbing through the latest Bass Master magazine.
Grandpa stood in the center of the room, saying nothing, doing nothing, looking but not seeing, confused, lost, afraid.
The exasperated daughter, wife and mother, tears running down her cheeks, implored, “Mama, why do we go through this every year? Why? It just isn’t worth it. Party after party. Shop, shop, shop! Spend, spend, spend! And for what? Why, Mama, do we do it? There must be some reason.”
Grandma led Grandpa to his favorite chair in the den, across the room from his son-in-law. She asked her daughter to go get the children. (She never called them “kids.”)
As they settled down on the floor around the Christmas tree, each holding a broken toy, Grandma approached the bookcase. She selected a volume, blew off the dust, and sat down beside Grandpa. She waited patiently until the young son-in-law, husband and father turned off the TV and put the magazine down.
Finally, she opened the book and began to read in a soft, soothing voice.
“And it came to pass in those days. . . .”
She read on for several more minutes. Then she arose from her chair, walked back toward the bookcase, and concluded the reading, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.”
She closed the book but stopped short of the bookcase. She placed the volume on the table next to her son-in-law’s chair.
Then she helped her daughter clean up the place. And she assured Grandpa that she would read the comics to him in a little while.
The children asked Grandma if she would read to them, too. “Will you read us some more about that little baby?” the little girl asked.
“Why, certainly,” she replied.
As Grandma bent down to pick up a used tissue beside Grandpa’s chair, she patted him on the leg and planted a kiss on his forehead. For a brief second, Grandpa’s eyes sparkled. And he smiled.
The daughter had stopped crying. The tears were gone. Love, joy and appreciation flooded her face.
The son-in-law picked up his ash tray and went outside to empty it. Out of the corner of her eye, Grandma saw him drop the butts — and an almost new pack of cigarettes — in the trash can.
And for some reason known only to Grandma and God, a calm peace settled over the big house on the hill.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
December 26, 2001

Logan, the affectionate
His name is Logan.
My husband named him. Since he was the one who didn’t really want it, I thought that by letting him name it, he would like it more. The jury is still out on that one.
Logan is dark black with a white belly and white feet and a little spot of white on his chin. He’s attractive in a manly cat way.
We figure he’s about 14 weeks old. Still small. Still playful, but definitely over the cutesy kitten stage.
He showed up at my Dad’s house about two months ago and joined up with my Dad’s four male cats. Dad has no idea where his mother is or if he had any sisters or brothers, but one of my Dad’s cats is obviously Logan’s dad. They look so much alike that my sister dubbed Logan “Mini Me.” I thought he was a sweet cat, very affectionate, purred a lot. My house was lacking a cat so we loaded up the cat and Piper and Addie on our last trip to my Dad’s house.
Addie didn’t pay him too much attention. She appeared disinterested on the ride home. You know where this is going, don’t you? When did the disinterest end, you might ask. The second we pulled up in the driveway and the cat was let into our house.
It was hyper dog meets hissing cat.
From Addie: “Oh my God! It’s a cat! It’s a cat! It’s a cat!” [tail wagging faster than a speeding bullet, ears cocked, head tilting from side to side] “Can I play with the cat? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I please play with the cat? Look, the cat just moved! Wow! I want to play with the cat!”
From Logan: “HISSSSSSS. GRRRRRRRRR.” [back arched with hair standing on end]
Piper just looked on with interest, her little eyebrows raised.
The cat ran. The dog chased. I swatted the dog on the rear end. The cat, no joke, stops running once he catches sight of the fish tank. He stops. Stares. Creeps closer and stares. His head follows the fish.
What was I thinking?
But really. Two weeks later we’ve settled down some.
The dog runs after the cat, but Logan hardly ever moves. Most of the time he plops onto his belly with paws raised just daring Addie to take a sniff. Addie gets popped in the nose every time, but she hasn’t stopped falling for it.
The dog is on hyper-drive constantly. She eats cat food, cat litter and puts her mouth on the cat’s tail every chance she gets. She whines when she can’t see the cat because it’s in the other room. She whines when she can see the cat and it’s under something she can’t crawl under. She whines when the cat stares at her.
And the cat? Well, Eric caught Logan on top of the fish tank the other day. He was standing on top with his paw held ready and watching for a fish to come close to the surface. Luckily, we have a tank full of bottom-feeding catfish. No harm, no foul.
He wants to be in your lap. Constantly. With both hands petting and scratching him. He walks over to me. Puts his front paws on my leg. Looks around. He thinks: “No kid? Lap free? Not for long” And up he comes. I pet him with one hand and he nudges the other until I’m petting him with both. He’s got me suckered in. He purrs and I melt. Gooing over him and writing columns about him. But he’s my kitty and his name is Logan.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for Mainstreet Newspapers.


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