By Otis Griffin
It seems frost always came earlier in the year when I was a little house ape. Oh, I didn’t read the papers and wouldn’t know what Bob Neal’s weather forecast on WMPS radio was, but I perked up when he mentioned a White Christmas. With the fall dampness and the overcast skies, I knew that hog killing was just around the corner. Gen’ly, after a good hard frost it was time to butcher and salt down our precious meat.
I can remember the weather was bad and someone would comment, “It looks like we may have a White Christmas.” A youngster’s highlight time of our comin’ up. White Christmas meant Santy and red snooted Rudy were coming soon! CARDUI calendars always egg colored a huge, red December 25th to make sure no one forgot about Santy.
Every year Momma would remind me to be extra good and “ack-right” or Santy won’t stop and leave any goodies. Back ’en we got our catalogues in the mail from Sears and Roebucks and Montgomery Ward. Sears was bigger and better ’cause it had more pictures. It was heavier than a number three washtub of chit’lins’. If I wanted to dream, and couldn’t find the glossary, I knew where to go. The last resort was a journey to the little house in the hog lot out behind the big house. Always some torn pages for an emergency, firmly in place!
Carefully protecting my treasure, I would study every page until my toys danced before my closed, sparkling eyes. I knew if I was a good boy Santy would bring me everything in the world. The gully jumpers at Rosemark Grammar School always bragged about how much each would receive at Christmas. If Santy had loaded down his cotton wagon sleigh with white oak side boards and delivered the presents each kid bragged about, he’d been too tired to fly around the rest of the world. However, it was fun lying on the kitchen floor, turning pages, asking Momma, “if she thought Santy might bring me a red Flyer wagon, a Red Ryder B. B. gun or possibly a train?”
With great anticipation, weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, all my prisoner friends in the red brick penitentiary bragged about the presents ole Santy would deliver. Before ‘books took up’ (Southernese for school starting), Lynn would read off his list, followed by Phil, Paul and then Emerson totaling their desires. Arvis, Tommy, Don and Wayne had enough wishes to fill an empty corn crib.
Even the little gals reminded us Santy would come see them too. Nancy, Claire, Andra and Charlotte Faye along with Edna Mai had a long list similar to a recipe book. No way they were gonna’ be outdone even if they are girls. Why? ’Cause their Mommas said so.
This started the next War Between the States and continued between classes, during recess and shoving in the lunch lines. Just imagine the debates after school? I doubt if Santy realized all the problems he was causing but Momma said she was glad it was only one time a year.
With all this wishing and hoping going on there was a lot of work to be completed before the red suited jolly fat man slid down the black chimney. Of course I volunteered for everything that would hurry up St. Nick. It’s amazing what a country redneck could do and would do just to make dear ole Santy happy….GLORY!