Monday, December 21, 2015

a child's christmas in texas | john henry faulk

One day after Christmas down in Texas, it was a cold and bitter day, I picked up a little boy about twelve years old in my car. Cheerful, his smile fairly warmed the car up and took the chill off the day, his whole body radiated joy.

And he said, "D'you see Sandy Claus yesterdee?"

And I says, "Yeah, he came up to our place."

He says, "Boy, we had the wonderfullest Christmas in the whole Newnited States America at our house. You know, Sandy Claus never did come out to our place before this. Nine us childern, and Papa says he reckons old Sandy Claus is skeert
to come out there and park them reindeer around cause somebody's liable to steal one and butcher it fore he can get away with it.

Papa's always jokin like that, but here just before Christmas time last week, well, Papa got word that they was givin things away in town for people that wasn't gonna have no Christmas, that Sandy Claus was gonna leave somethin with the Shriners or somebody like that, Salvation Army, and if ye go in town you could git it. So he hooked up the mules day before yesterdee on Christmas Eve. He told us Now don't go gettin all upset and tore up about this because they might not be a thing to it, I aint sure I'm gonna bring nothin back. But shuckins, we couldn't hardly wait, boy, we couldn't git our minds on playin nothin else you know, we just kept lookin up the lane, waitin for that wagon team to come back.

And mama, she was just as bad as we was. She'd say, Now y'all quit gittin so tore up about this, cause you heard your Papa say you might not git nothin.

And sure enough, long bout four clock in the afternoon here we heared the wagon acomin, and papa had them mules in a full trot, n th harness was just a janglin. And when he come in sight, he uz standin up in the wagon, holdin two great big old chickens out, no feathers on em, up. And a yellin "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas." And he stopped the mules right in front of the gate and us childun just went acrawlin out through the fence you know, and moma come a hurrying down the walk, n we run out there, and climbed, swarmed over that wagon just like a flock a chi chis y'know, alookin in it, and papa standin up thar a holdin them two big old nekked chickens and a'yellin merry Christmas, just a grinnin like a new ray uh sun.

And y'oughta of seen alla things that was in that wagon. Apples n real orngiss y'know, and stripe-itty candy, and nuts, and mama, she uz hold the baby in her arms and she peeked over in there an she just caught her breath. And she looked up at poppa and he's standin there, and he wretched down and dropped the chickens, caught the baby outa momma's arms and just lift him up and said "Merry Christmas Sandy Claus to yih."

And we all started talkin at the same time, askin momma what this was and that was, and she's pointin out them nuts. They wasn't just peanuts, this' nuts with foreign names you know and ev'thang in there. And it's just wondrous.

And all a sudden papa, we heared him sing out, "Merry Christmas Sam Jackson. Did you go in town and git some Sandy Claus too?"

Sam Jackson you know, he's that colored farmer that share crops right next to our place, and he was leadin that old cripple mule of his'n down the lane, and we all of us stopped up and looked up there t'ard im n he kinda shook ees head n he said, "No sir Mr Willis, sure ditn'. I ditn' know it was fer everybody, I just thought it was fer the white folks and ditn go in."

Papa says, "W'I d'clar." And he looked out mama-- Y'know Sam Jackson his family's hepped us out with crops a lot the time when mama got down in her back and coult'n do it, and we think a heap uh them. And papa looked at moma and mama looked at him and just kinda smiled like, and papa just sang out, "Sam, I forgot to tell ya, Old Sandy Claus left part this here in there f'you and he said to be sure to try n git word to ye, that you and your wife n younguns spose to come down here n have Christmas 'th us tmorrah now, cause we gonna Christmas gift it all day long."

In Sam Jackie said, "You sure about that now Mr Will?" Papa said, "Sure about it? I don't want to git Sandy Claus mad at me, listen, he liable to tire me up if you don't git down here. You all come early in stay late." And Mama she sang out n said, "You tell your wife bring now some pots n pans, cause we gonna have a heap a cookin t'do tomorrow. It goin be Christmas time in this hawse."

In, in Sam Jackson said, "Awright," n boy he went walkin off and all, and we's just talkin n'all, that night we couldn't hardly sleep y'know, we just couldn't git t'bed. We was layin there on the pallets, me n old Ernie, n we'd nudge each other n just geegle y'know, n creep up n crawl on all fours in thar n look in the kitchen n see if that was in there, boy. N you know, mama 'n papa'd say "Y'all better shut up n go on to bed now cause Sandy Claus goin get mad 't'y'll," n then he'd laugh hisself.

N Boy, next morning sun just come up n looked Christmas time, just smilin all over th'earth. And here we hear the wagon acomin, here comes Sam Jackson n his five chillen an his wife sittin up there on the spring seat with him. And they come pilin' out y'know, Willie Jackson we go rabbit huntin alluh time anyhow n I think a heap uh him, Boy we started playing Christmas time there around the house, and we had more fun just playin Christmas gift, you know wrappin pine cones up and givin em t'each other, and we none us ever played it `fore but it just come natural to ye, an we just laughin, an when we wut'n doin nothin else we'd run up n smell in th'kitchen door n then just turn round look at each other n just laugh, n just roll over y'know, it just tickles ye t'see it's Christmas time, jist old Sandy Claus or what.

And Papa n Sam Jackson fixed up long boards n put sheets over'm for a table, purdiest table you ever seen in your life, looks just like a cathedral or somethin in thare. N my sister Ellie n Marley Jackson, that th'oldest Jackson girl, they broke off cedar sprigs n pine sprigs n everthang n put em up in thare. N boy, you just never did see nothin th't jist looked Christmas time in there.

N Mom n them, bout noontime they said "Alright now, let's allll commme n eat." And boy we went 'n'air, and I's sittin next to Willie Jackson n we just couldn' hardly keep from laughin. And at ivvybuddy's plate they wuss n apple in uh ornge in some nuts n some stripe-itty candy. Even at the baby's plate. And mom 'n 'em start brangin evathang in, jist, jist almost kill ye t'smell it, it smelt s'good, boy. N they put't all up'n'down th table n papa said, "Now brother Jackson, you a deacon in th church, you say grace." N Sam Jackson, he ditn bow his head like a heap o folks do when they say grace, he just smiled up at heaven you know, and said "I just want to say one thing to you Lord, Merry Christmas, hope you enjoyin it much as we are." Then we all fell to an' et. It was wonderfullest Christmas in Newnited States of America, you know it?