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From the Mouth of the River

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From the Mouth of the River

A redneck Christmas

This is a story of Christmas as seen through the eyes of a redneck child and his explanation, thereof, to a little friend.

On a cold December evening a long, long time ago I sat at my grandmother’s knee next to an old heating stove and listened intently as she told me the story of Christmas. The yellow glow from a coal oil lamp gave light to her old Bible as she read excerpts from it to help with her explanation. I often wondered how long it would take someone to read the Bible as Granny would read it every day and never seemed to finish it while Dad would go through two or more of those wild west books he read every month. With her long gray hair done up in a bun and her small round glasses way down on her nose she looked every bit like a Norman Rockwell painting.

“Grandma, why do you have fruit jar rubbers on your leg?” I asked.

“To hold my socks up you little twerp,” she replied. “Now pay attention. I’m trying to explain something to you that a boy your age needs to know.”

Now, first of all, as the reader, you need to understand that we lived on a sand hill farm in southern Oklahoma where we grew cockle burrs, sand burrs, bull nettles and an occasional ear of corn. My grandma had a sharecropper who lived about a mile east of us who produced the same kind of crops we did. He also had a boy about a year younger than me whom I felt the need to explain Christmas to as soon as I found out about it. It would be the first Christmas that involved gifts for both of us and we could look forward to getting them together.

“Listen to this, Bub.” Bub was short for Bubba. His full name was Bubba Washington. “Wait ‘til you hear what’s about to happen to us,” I said excitedly. “Christmas is coming!”

Bub looked down the road, “I don’t see nobody comin’. When is it gonna get here?”

“Soon,” I said, “Grandma said soon. Do you know about God?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he answered, “I heard my Dad mention him and them damn mules.”

“Well, Grandma said He created the Heavens and the Earth and everything on it.”

“If he created hosses why did he go ahead and create them mules, too?”

“I don’t know, you gotta ask my Grandma, she knows everything ‘bout God. Anyway, after God created Heaven and Earth he created a man and a woman. They got caught stealing apples from the Garden of Needin’ by a snake who crawled up the woman’s leg and scared the pee out her, then all hell broke loose. That’s when all the begotten took place in the Bible. Adam and Eve had a bunch a kids and they all slept in a pile like a litter of pups and soon John begot Lazarus and Abraham and Jacob and David and Delilah and they begot a bunch more and soon the world was full of people and God said this has got to stop. So he sent down a bunch of rules for them to live by and no one paid any attention to ‘em so God said he was gonna send down his only begotten son, Jesus, to straighten everything out and he would arrive on Christmas Day. And three wise men smoking Camels brought presents for Jesus’s birthday and that’s how come we get gifts on Christmas Day, to remind us of Jesus’s birthday.”

“Wow,” Bubba said, “that’s a lot of begotten.”

“Oh listen, when Jesus got here he started straightening out peoples legs and made the blind walk and when they had a big party he cleaned a lot of fish and made bread and told everyone to straighten up or they was going to burn in hell for ever and ever and they did.”

“Golly, that Jesus is something else!” Bubba exclaimed.

“Yeah”, I said, “he can even walk on water. But, that’s nothing. Wait until you hear what Santa Claus can do.”

“Who’s Santa Claus?” Bubba asked.

“He’s the guy that’s going to bring us our gifts on Christmas Day. Listen to this. He’s a big fat man in red overalls and he has a long white beard and drives a team of eight tiny reindeer hitched to a sled and comes all the way down from the North Pole through the air. Never even touches the ground! He just lands on top of your house and he stops at every house where there’s a good little boy and maybe even where a girl lives. Now, you gotta get out one of your socks that don’t have the toe out and hang it on a nail by your heatin’ stove, ‘cause that’s where Santa puts your gifts, in your sock.”

“Well, if he lands on our house, Dad’s bulldogs will eat him alive when he tries to get in the house.”

“Oh, that’s the best part. He don’t come through the door. He just puts his finger to his nose and blows snot everywhere and zoom down the stove pipe he goes and into your house, stuffs your sock full of goodies and back up the chimney to his reindeer and on to the next house. Don’t even get burnt.”

“Wow, I want to stay up and see them reindeer land on our house and see that fat man come down our stove pipe!” Bubba said with excitement.

“Me too,” I exclaimed.

I, like every other kid who had heard about Santa Claus for the first time, was very excited on Christmas Eve. I asked my dad and grandma if I could stay up and see Santa come down our stove pipe. Dad said I could as long as I didn’t go to sleep. He helped me nail up my best stocking right behind the heating stove and right after a supper of fried chicken, hot biscuits and honey, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, I crawled up in Grandma’s lap by the heating stove and immediately passed out. The next thing I know I was being awakened in my own bed well after sun up.

“It’s Christmas,” Dad said, “aren’t you going to get up and see what Santa brought you?”

I jumped out of bed onto the cold hardwood floor and with the flap of my long johns flapping in the wind I raced into the living room and there it was! My stocking stuffed to the brim with all kinds of gifts and goodies. There was a pair of hand knitted mittens, orange and blue with a pair of knitted socks to match. Then came the good stuff. Two oranges, two tangerines, an apple and a whole pile of mixed nuts in their shells. Down at the foot the sock was filled with hard candy. Bright colored ribbon candy and big chunks of hard peppermint all the way down to the toe. With one sock on and the other full of goodies I hurried to empty out my gifts ‘cause that old hardwood floor was cold.

That’s when I discovered a major faux pas with my Christmas gifts. It seems my Christmas stocking had been hung by the chimney with care, but too close to the stove. All of my peppermint candy had melted into the toe of my sock!

A few days later I walked over to Bubba’s wearing my new socks and my mittens to see what Santa had left for him.

“Nothing,” he said. “Dad told me there was no such thing as a black Santa Claus and your white Santa Claus didn’t stop here. Why do you have that sock stuck in your mouth?” he asked.

“It’s full of peppermint Christmas candy,” I said. “Wanna suck on it some?”

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Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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