Once again Christmas and the advent of a new year are peeking over the horizon and, once again, the lady of the cabin has transformed our little dwelling into the quintessential yuletide abode.
The interior is festooned with homemade decorations while delicious aromas swirl from the kitchen bathing the air with sweet scents one can almost taste.
I contribute nothing to all of the falderal because those are her standing orders lest, in my zeal to decorate, the mini mutt ends up as an exceptionally displeased tree ornament and wrapped packages take on the aspect of being shredder enhanced.
I do have one positive contribution though.
After over 20-some years driving the Haul Road and other exotic Arctic byways that enjoyed trying to morph me into an inverted snow-cone during whiteouts and sneaky avalanches, I’m hell-on-wheels when it comes to getting our presents mailed, delivered or picked up.
That talent alone always pays off with a personal, super-secret, stash of chocolate lava cookies that Santa would delightedly trade Rudolph and a couple auxiliary reindeer for.
This year my bride suggested that, while she was turning our cabin into something that resembles a guesthouse at the North Pole, I could stay out of harm’s way by answering some of the voluminous questions the Unhinged Alaska Gmail account has received over the year.
I responded that there is a reason the column’s title leads with “Unhinged” and that some of the inquires I received germinate from the minds of suspicious sources who would be prime fodder for an episode of The X Files.
She gave me a stare blatantly suggesting that my indisposed attitude could result in the molten lava cookies turning into a fast food burger box stuffed with withered popcorn and sundry victuals retrieved from beneath sofa cushions and the interior of an ancient recliner that has developed its own ecosystem.
A compromise was reached when I handed her a sheaf of slurred communiqués that implied they were the results of trying to type while under the influence of a combination of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine and thunder-weed brownies.
She considered them hysterical but agreed that some of the more incoherent submissions would make excellent fodder to address after the new year takes root. Thus, I was able to slip enthusiastically back into my official status as a “Do no harm” errand drone. Or so I thought.
Turk and Willie normally join us on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and help us celebrate our wedding anniversary but the two were still butting heads after the election like starving Neanderthals bickering over the last mammoth’s hindquarters.
The two love each other like brothers but, like brothers, the dunderheads can get into some verbal brawls and insult donnybrooks that smack of cage fights where expletives are thrown rather than roundhouse kicks.
So, I was tasked as a Noel diplomat to bring the sparring sides together to assure there would be a reasonably silent night when the time came to hang our stockings with care.
It turned out to be a much easier task than I expected because, by the time I called, the grumps had set aside their political squabble to debate about who was the sickest of the two.
Both were running temperatures capable of heating root cellars and blowing through enough tissues to clear cut the Tongass National Forest.
Willie sounded like a mortally cracked duck call while Turk’s attempts at communicating resulted in various snorts and wheezing only a water buffalo could comprehend.
I knew they wouldn’t get near a medical facility until they had to crawl through its door so I asked my nurse-training-enhanced bride for advice.
She recalled a few years back when I picked up a horrendous head cold virus somewhat akin to the virulent ilk that wiped the dinosaurs off the earth and how Turk came to the rescue with his homemade brew that unclogs sinuses, assassinates viruses, sweats out fevers and dissolves dental plaque.
The purée was hard to disremember.
It smelled like a combination of wolverine breath and Tasmanian devil armpits.
The taste wasn’t much better but a single slug turned my throat numb and I no longer had the urge to cough up a kidney or other vital intestinal quadrants.
With additional ministrations, I was back to my lovable self in three days and breath tolerable within less than a month.
Realizing Turk was too sick to cook up some of his primordial broth and that we had a leftover jug locked in a Hazmat container, I was rolled on a mercy run.
As of this writing, the boys are able to get around on all fours with a high probability of standing upright during the weekend and should make it to the festivities next weekend thanks to a magic elixir.
I’ve have no idea what all goes into the tonic but it works.
Come to think of it, maybe it has a little to do with the catalyst Turk was croaking about when I stopped by with the jug.
He croaked, “Tnks, aul l kned nowl jis sumb Bekardee won fifiee won ta jup sart dis &^%$.”
No wonder it went down so well.
Finally, Jane and I would like to wish everyone the best and merriest of Christmases along with a wonderful new year to come.
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.