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Southern Raisin': This list is perfect

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Remember in your youth the best time of the year was when Santy came with a big cotton sack full of toys.  However we had to make our own lists as the red suited round man visited many kids in just one short night.      

Momma and I sat at the kitchen table and comprised my long catalog of wants.  When completed, Daddy would check it.  Usually commenting, “I don’t think Santy Claus will bring all these presents this year.”  Why?  I didn’t understand, as I thought I was supposed to get anything and everything I wanted.  It didn’t work that way then and ain’t no better now.

I questioned Momma with, “how is Santy going to get the list?”  Momma replied, “we are going to mail it to the North Pole where he lives.”  I knew where the North pasture, the North cotton field, and the North hedgerow were, but the North Pole?  I knew what a light pole was, and though we didn’t have a phone, I knew what a telephone pole was.  Sure, everyone had a fishing pole and I knew about a pole barn, but what and where is the North Pole?  

Friends, I heard Daddy give directions to a stranger once about locating the tankage plant just NORTH of Crosstown up fifty-one highway.  I surely hope the North Pole is not around the tankage plant because the toys will smell awful.

Yes sirrreeee, we wrote dear ole Santy on a penny post card and mailed it to the North Pole.  Right before Momma headed for the mailbox, I asked her to read the list one more time.  I even accompanied her to the mailbox to make absolutely sure the penny card was safe and the lid closed real tight, so the wind wouldn’t blow it away and lose my precious list.  Then I waited for Mr. Robert Williams, our mail carrier as he was called back then, to stop and pick up the mail.  I hid behind the roll up yellow window shades in the living room, so Mr. Robert wouldn’t see me anxiously anticipating his arrival. 

Neighbor, just as soon as he departed, stopping next door at Claire’s house, I went around behind the smoke house, fetching a five-gallon slop bucket and flew to the mailbox.  Dragging this metal bucket as big as I was, I didn’t look both ways crossing the blacktop and Mr. Ed Miller almost ran over me.  He slammed on brakes and scolded me a little about running out in front of cars emphasizing the getting hurt issue.  After begging for forgiveness with, “please, don’t tell Daddy” he eased on toward the metropolis of downtown Rosemark.  I’m thinking, “I done messed up again” and Santy will pass me by.  No, maybe Santy was busy making toys and hopefully didn’t see me.  

Carefully I turned the bucket upside down and swiftly pounced on it so I could open the door on the mailbox.  I crossed my tiny fingers for good luck and sure enough the penny post card had been picked up.  Santy had my list and was making my toys.  I snatched up the bucket and carefully darted across the road watching out for Mr. Ed returning.

Beloved, as everyone knows, a true redneck had to show off.   How?  Well at Christmas time what better way than to brag about all the toys and presents my dear friend Santy will drop off this one particular night. There were only a dozen or so kids in my grade and each year our teachers, Mrs. Douglas, Mrs. Battle and later Mrs. Ricks allowed us to stand in front of the class and recite what we wanted for Christmas.  

The first three or four kid’s list wasn’t very long, but as each took their turn, the list seemed to grow by one or two more items.  Not to be out done, I probably took half a day to verbiage mine.  Once Mrs. Owen corrected me by reminding me that the rest of the kids would be left out and we had to share.  I shut up and sat down to the pleasure of the entire class and I’m sure Santy was nodding in agreement.

Waiting For Santy Takes Too Long For This Country Boy….GLORY!

Otis Griffin is the author of the book “Southern Raisin”. He was born in  Charleston, Tenn., and attended Rosemark Grammar School and Bolton High School.

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