There is a curse, intermingled with mixed blessings, when one is subjected to years of factorized labor. Writing is a passion, but the checks that pay the bills are manufactured 40 hours a week. CNC router programing and frame design, more so mentally than physically demanding, but a welcome necessity in advancing years. Whether mental or physical, over time one’s mind and body become attuned to the scheduled factory grind. So successfully sleeping in on off days becomes a scant luxury one can no longer afford.

The house is quiet, encompassed in an eerily alien stillness in the pre-dawn hours. Slipping silently from the sofa, checking on the grandchild (and a grand child he is), who’s lying languidly on the love seat. The now weekly living room sleepover ritual of lo-mien, video games and drifting off to reruns of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is complete. It’s hard to make strangers care about the good things in your life.

Gurgles, bleeps and percolation can be heard, as the only other being succumbing to consciousness at this wee hour beckons. Flannel bathrobe, wolfman fuzzy slippers and minutes later, a steaming cup of “the best part of waking up” is carried outside, its warmth chasing away the chill. Subtle sips are accompanied by puffs of nicotine laced breaths. Not smoking as much these days, but that first one of the day is a b**** to surrender.

An errant streetlight cast a faint ethereal glow across the breadth of the triangular side yard. Within less than 20 feet seven wary does, four gangly fawns and a rutting young buck share this impromptu spotlight. Pages could be filled at the sight of these majestic creatures, but writing it down seems to diminish it somehow. So we’ll leave it to one’s imagination.

Towards the back of the herd, Dolf (our undead reindeer in resident) grazes contently. With John Q. (my yellow, stuffed bear sidekick) astride him, disseminating sugar cubes and Doritos to the cervidae ensemble. He cast an ecstatically happy wave, which is sincerely returned with a contented smile. And why not, things are actually going pretty much okay especially in consideration of the time of year. It is supposed to be, after all, the most wonderful time of the year. Cup emptied, butt snubbed, there’s a desire to linger but the call of the morning constitutional must be answered. The toilet seat is cold.

After the fact, back in the living room, there’s an emotionally lingering pleasantness of successful family activity in the air. A positive feng shui, if you will. The tree was assembled, erected and decorated (only one bulb out) last eve. To the tune of x-mas carols, with nary an ill word spoken. Set in all its artificial plastic glory before the front window, amid much moving and rearranging of furniture at the behest of Lil Red (that’s the spouse). Her beaming smile is the only reward required. Preordered packages have arrived in a timely fashion. All soon to be wrapped and placed beneath the wire boned boughs…save one.

This may be the last “Santa” Christmas for the little fella. He knows this and truly is a grand child for understanding that new babies will soon need to take his place on the nice list. Well if you’re going out, do it big and in style. After asking for items for the family, he humbly requested a go-kart from the jolly fat man — if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Aforementioned he’s a really good kid, so Santa will gladly adhere to his request. Of course being a 10 year old the size of a 15 year old does present complications in this matter, an adult-sized go-kart is required, is costly and won’t fit under the tree. That’s okay — Santa knows a guy and has been saving up.

A second cup of wake-me-up is procured and the sofa is revisited. Slowly the dawn breaches the horizon; its rays illuminating the lights and glistening across the tinsel. The plastic star catches the light, casting rainbows of color about the room. This is Christmas, beautiful in its simplicity and wondrous in its presentation. Magic time? No, just a natural occurrence amplified by unnatural means reserved for early risers. Oh well, that’s enough of that for now — there’s an article to be written.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at [email protected]. Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya.