Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: Some things never change. Nor should they

In the dawdling days prior to Thanksgiving, things are usually as serene as a gentle snowfall within our modest piece of nirvana

I have recently received emails requesting an encore of a column I once wrote about our preps for the holiday.

I think following is the one they are referencing. If not, my apologies to those making such entreaties whilst preening their tanned keisters on the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, I’m recovering from attempting a vertical approach to my rig while performing a series of ungainly triple axels after forgetting my ice cleats.

Per your request:

In the dawdling days prior to Thanksgiving, things are usually as serene as a gentle snowfall within our modest piece of nirvana. The only sounds customarily floating through our cabin are the melodious refrains of seasonal classics and the light jingle of ornaments as my bride prepares to decorate for the holidays.

Jane is an artiste at turning our log home into a holiday enlightenment so cool that Kris Kringle leaves her gourmet chocolate muffins-n-milk along with a side of imported cheeses.

My job is to primarily stay out of the way and let her craft her latest masterpieces from turkey-n-things feasts to a Yuletide tree so stunning that it glimmers without illuminated lights.

I, of course, am not without responsibilities.

I contribute to the massive project by pointing out anomalies in the ornament layout of tree such as crookedness, appropriate visibility, and the proper balance of colored lighting. All, while attempting to keep up with the myriad of football games with the closed caption engaged to ensure her background music remains prioritized.

Easy now. Before you start with the gnarly snarks, chill.

It is at her behest that I remain in the shadows during her favorite projects of the year because she learned early in our marriage that her idea of sculpted Christmas themes and décor did not quite coincide with mine.

Hers, without question, are classified as exquisite artistic innovations of special seasonal themes.

Mine? Well, even my loving mother and relatively blunt father considered my attempts at adornment layouts as being deeply influenced by multihued landfills.

Back in the day, I was banned from getting anywhere near a tree with a fist full of tinsel.

My idea of distributing the silvery strings was to fade back and rocket a towering pass on the theory that the tinsel would separate evenly and serenely float down to cover the green limbs in a radiant veneer. Thus, allowing me a swift return to the backyards of raging snowball battles between other happy household exiles released from the grind of the festooning scene.

Things did not go as planned.

The resultant glob ended up resembling a crashed communication satellite dangling from the main angle’s wing which did not impress either parent. Thus, I was relegated to holiday litter patrol and primary snow shovel engineer much to the glee of my E-vile snitch-empowered sister.

Unfortunately, my festal season skills and responsibilities haven’t transmuted much since then, other than my wife claims that she has finally started noticing a glimmer of maturity in a couple of my aging buds.

That didn’t last long.

Last week, just as we were settling in from a sojourn north to complete my bride’s culinary requirements list and do a little pre sales reconnaissance, Willie came roaring into the driveway in his latest version of an antique Tijuana taxi crossbred with a severely damaged Baja off-road racer.

Turk was riding shotgun and was so pale I thought for a moment I could see through him.

It looked as though he either had eaten some of Willie’s road kill casserole or had just experienced another out of body experience with W behind the wheel.

It turned out to be the latter.

As Turk stumbled around the driveway trying to reestablish his sense of balance and thwart feelings of pending doom, Willie jabbered like an acutely over caffeinated protester who couldn’t remember the latest cause of the week but kept babbling because someone was filming it on TikTok.

When he finally wound down to the stage of semi coherency and was able to speak in tempered sentences, he confessed that he had lost our communal bird that was supposed to have been this year’s banquet centerpiece.

It turned out that the scrap wood aviary Willie built for the turkey took wing, along with our main course, when a fiendish wind storm hurtled through the area during the night leveling the structure.

Turk just stared at W while mumbling something about paybacks that may or may not have included neutering.

Jane remained unfazed and announced that the four of us will still be enjoying a toasty tom with all the trimmings.

It turned out that, because my wife is both an excellent hunter and gatherer, she harvested enough while foraging in the markets to nail a free 20lb. gobbler so we are all set for the big day although I’m a bit worried about Willie.

The way Turk was glowering at him before they left, W may be enjoying his meal through a straw.

Nick can be reached at

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