Happy New Year!

I expect you’ve heard the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, I’ve had good intentions of getting this availability list out for the last two or three weeks and just have not gotten it done. We’ve been shipping a good bit of stuff lately, as you can see from our diminished inventory numbers, and we’ve had the boys home for Christmas. I heard a preacher say one time that most excuses were little more that the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie. I’m not even going to bother with trying to make a plausible sounding explanation for my delay.

Had I been punctual with this list I would have taken the time to wish you a Merry Christmas. Now about all I can say is that I hope yours was good, as ours was, and that you have a Happy New Year.

Having grown children changes Christmas in a very pronounced way, or at least is has for us. Gone are the nights of having to stay up late playing Santa Claus, as are the really fun toys. I used to be just about as excited as the kids were about playing with four-wheelers, guns and sports gear. Now that they’re both in college it’s mostly clothes and an occasional electronic gadget or two, many of which are incomprehensible and useless to me.

I don’t know what it was that brought it to mind, but yesterday I was reminded of a toy we got for Christmas when my brothers and I were little. It must’ve been along about 1970 or so, because I think it was around the time of my first year in the 3rd grade. The gizmos were called Clackers, or that’s what we called them, and they were nothing more than two balls made of some type of acrylic or glass attached by roughly two feet of string. Each ball, if my memory serves me properly, was a little bigger than a golf ball. The trick to using them as intended was to grab the string in the middle, give a little up and down motion to get the balls bouncing off one another, and then flail like crazy to get the balls to collide above and below your hand.

It was not an easy thing to do, but if you ever got them going it sounded like a machine gun, which, now that I think of it, explains why we were only allowed to play with them outside. And beyond the issue of the racket they made, these things had some other problems that caused more than a little bit of parental concern. There were stories, unsubstantiated by us elementary schoolers, of the balls chipping during use and putting out children’s eyes. There were other stories, much more believable, of Clackers being left out in the yard and setting the grass on fire. When the sun shone through them they acted exactly like a magnifying glass. 

Even if these stories were untrue, I can tell you from experience that the price of learning how to work them was quite high. We all kept bruises and knots on our forearms because, if the two balls didn’t strike each other on exactly the same plane, your arm was definitely going to take a hit. It is amusing to me now to think this is what passed for fun in rural south Mississippi in 1970. My own two boys, in their jaded age of extravagant toys, would’ve thrown these things in the scrap pile in five minutes or less.  Like all good toys, Clackers were eventually banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

I hope you and your family have a fantastic, productive, profitable 2014. I am far more optimistic about the state of the nursery industry now than I was at this time last year. 

Next time I’ll tell you why.

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