A Christmas Story
My uncle was a Redneck and a tobacco farmer. But, the farming was just a front to fool the revenuers. His primary occupation was as a purveyor of non-tax paid alcohol, otherwise known as moonshine, white likker, and in more recent times, ethanol. He often conducted protracted quality assurance tests of his product, in other words, he got drunk and stayed drunk for days.
I remember one Christmas when I was eight or nine years old. I already knew that Santa Claus was a fictional character that children are misled to believe in. My younger brothers, sister and many of my cousins still thought that Santa Claus broke into their houses on Christmas Eve and left them toys and ugly clothing.
It was a snowy afternoon and evening. My father and uncles worked for the state highway department and had been called to work operating snow plows scraping snow off the roads and highways. My family along with two of my aunts and many of my cousins were at our grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve. We had finished supper, the other kids and I were in the living room playing Monopoly or listening to the radio (this was before anyone I knew had TV). The adults were in the kitchen making Christmas’ cookies and talking when my uncle showed up.
He parked in the front yard and came into the house carrying a shotgun in one hand and a quart fruit jar in the other. I never knew how to take him. I don’t know whether he liked kids or not, but he always acted as if he didn’t. We were all a little afraid of him. He went into the kitchen and set the shotgun in the corner by the door. He sat down at the table and asked for a glass and another glass of water. His method of drinking; he would pour a half glass of whiskey with a glass of water on the side. It may take an hour, but when he drank, he killed the whiskey and followed it with the water. Then he would refill the glasses and begin the wait until next time.
After about an hour, he yelled, “Hey all you young’uns git in here! I brought you some candy.
The younger kids jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I trepidatiously followed. He had a pile of candy on the table and was handing it out. My aunts and mother were reminding the kids to say “Thank You” and were smiling at their children.
My uncle suddenly said, “Be quiet, I heered something.” He jumped up grabbed his shotgun saying, “Hear that?” and went through the door onto the back porch. Almost immediately the gun fired and then again. Everyone was wondering what he was shooting at. I started through the door, but Mom grabbed me and said, “Don’t go out there.”
He comes back through the door and sets the shotgun back in the corner and says, “Well they ain’t gonna be no God Damned Sandy Claus this year. I just run that Sumbitch off.”
Those Santa Claus-believing kids probably suffered mental problems and would have required therapy in these more progressive years.
I must have inherited some of the same genes as my uncle. I thought it was funny then and still think it is hilarious.