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Southern Raisin': I didn’t expect

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The first time I ever visited Santy was at the basement floor at Sears-Roebucks on Watkins.  Pictures of Santy with his red outfit, white bushy beard and black boots didn’t scare me.  However, it is a whole new ball game in real life.  

Santy is sitting on a stage with hay bales around him and a Christmas tree decorated to the hilt.  A floodlight is shining brightly, making Santy sweat pretty good in that bright red wool outfit.  There must have been 25 little kids standing in line about my age, eagerly anticipating talking to dear ole Santy.  About the middle of the line I’m rehearsing, under my breath, just what my order will be, as I don’t want to leave out anything.  But, as I get a little closer to dear ole Santy, I’m not quite as brave.

Friends, I had never seen anything that resembled Santy in the sleepy community of Rosemark. I knew Santy only came out once a year and this strange looking red suited fat man made me nervous.  I began to wonder just what boogers looked like?  I had heard of boogers in the dark, and I knew they were out there, but I had never seen one.  Was Santy a “Disguised Booger”?

I fidgeted and waited my time.  Right in front of me, a beautiful little blonde haired girl about four I guess, crawled on Santy’s lap like she loved him.  Watching her, I fell in love my first time.  Even at this early age, the little gals know what to do when they want something.  She hugged Santy, ferociously kissing him on the cheek, laid her head on his shoulder, smiled so sweetly, and lovingly blinked those pale blue eyes.  

She was speaking very softly, right close to Santy’s ear and relayed her request that would require a cotton wagon.  Yep, gonna’ overload Rudolph’s flying sleigh and break an axle.  I was too young to realize when a Southern Belle wants something this is the attention getter.  Mommas commence coaching early and brother it works.

When completed, the future Miss America slid off Santy’s lap with a honey-dripping smile and skipped back grabbing her momma’s hand and teacher’s approval.   Now it was my time as Santy beckoned me to the podium so Momma gave me a little boost.  Beloved, I made up my mind that I’m not hugging and kissing Santy in front of all these folks watching.  Actually what I did was start crying and ran behind Momma, hiding from this possible ‘booger’.  

Daddy got ill with me as I was snubbing, fighting to hold back tears.  He was raking me over the coals for acting like a kid and bawling in front of all these grownups.  I wanted to hide, but there ain’t nowhere to go, ’ceptin’ under the counter of the clothes rack.  I frantically begged Momma and Daddy to write Santy and make sure he is not mad at me and hopefully won’t pass me by, but there wasn’t any assurance.  I was about to give up come Christmas time.  But as all Mommas do, they love and forgive their little curtain climbers.  She said she might talk to Santy and luckily, to my surprise, Santy did visit but I didn’t see him.  

Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year as we have so much to be thankful for.  The sight of youngsters crawling out of bed earlier than usual, scampering to the Christmas tree to see what Santy left them, trying to get the sleep peeled from their eyes.  Usually the parents, older siblings, and possibly grandparents eagerly await the ankle biters groping for their favorite toys.  A feeling of love that goes though the room is so thick you could cut it with a knife.  The closeness is only found this particular time of the year.

Try closing your eyes and remember how much pleasure you got as a youngster and visualize what must be going through a four-year-old sprinting to the green cedar tree decorated with blinking lights and icicles waving in the warm, scented living room.  Presents that had been carefully and painstakingly wrapped, now only resemble a fight at a Goldsmith’s woman’s shoe sale, but the satisfaction and gleam in the youth’s eye can only bring love and affection.

Put forth a little extra effort this year to enjoy your loved ones and friends, because we don’t know how long it will last as it could be gone in the blink of an eye.  Be thankful for all you have and don’t complain about what you don’t.  Let us not forget, above all occurrences of this joyful time, the most important part of Christmas are the first six letters!  Praise God.  

A Blissful Day Of A Country Redneck Growing Up In Our Wonderful South….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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