Mama Earlene’s Annual Christmas Letter from Shady Creek, Tennessee (2006)

by Patrick Redding

Merry Christmas, y’all! Well, it’s been a humdinger of a year for us here, and let me just tell you all about it. Probably the best thing that happened all year was when Elmer, that old neighbor of ours over yonder side of the hill, up and died. Well, it wasn’t good he died, bless his heart, but since nary a one of his young’uns wanted to live there, they let us buy the place right cheap. It took a lot of fix-up on the house since the sheriff’s deputies left a lot of bullet holes when they raided old Elmer’s meth lab in the spare bedroom. But it’s amazing what a little spackle and duct tape did for the place, and with a few gallons of Lysol, you can’t hardly tell that old Elmer kept them coon dogs in the house. (The coon dogs didn’t come with the property, unfortunately. Sheriff Mack took them home with him after the drug raid, which, if you ask me, was the reason they come and raided his house in the first place. And poor old Elmer was only running that meth lab to supplement his Social Security, bless his heart. Sheriff Mack ought to be ashamed, harassing our good neighbor like that.)

With so many people getting divorced today, it is always nice when couples can resolve their differences and stay together, even if it means they got to live in separate houses.

So anyways, now that we got that extry house, Grampaw Bobby has been able to move out there and have more room for his Nascar collectibles which Grammaw Ida said she was going to divorce him for if he didn’t get them things out of her good china cabinet. With so many people getting divorced today, it is always nice when couples can resolve their differences and stay together, even if it means they got to live in separate houses. By the way, now that he has the extry space, Grampaw Bobby has almost got the full set of Nascar commemorative shot glasses. He only lacks a Dale Jr. and a Sterling Marlin to make a full set, so if you see one of them out at the flea market, pick it up for him and he will pay you back at the first of the month.

Speaking of divorces, we were all saddened this year when little Haley June had to leave her no-good cheating husband Drew after catching him in her very own trailer with that truck-stop cashier. They were divorced in August after eighteen blissful months of marriage. Since she burned down the trailer, she has moved in with Drew’s mama and daddy who want to be able to help with their grandbabies while Haley June goes back to school. If all goes well, she hopes to graduate in two years and be able to work in the hospitality industry. Drew’s daddy says if she don’t graduate, she can always work at that massage parlor out on County Road 141, ha ha. Haley June’s baby Cody is now two years old, and her other baby Denver is fourteen months. She is a little behind her other sisters but since she is just 19 and still a right pretty girl, she can probably catch up.

As for Haley June’s sisters, Sue Ellen had her baby this fall. They named him Caleb, and that makes six for her and her husband Larry. Their twins Matt and Jonah are on the junior high football team, and Starla is in the high school marching band. We did not know that Starla had any musical talent other than dancing in front of the picture window to some sort of “Dance Fever” record. We always thought she wasn’t right in the head, bless her heart, but now we know she is just a musician. Luke, their eldest, is still away in juvenile detention for that business about setting that school bus on fire, but they tell us his behavior has been a lot better since he has been away from home, so we are hoping they may let him out soon. Joshua is in sixth grade this year, and won his school spelling bee competition. They wanted to put one of them “My Child Is an Honor Student” bumper stickers on their truck, but they couldn’t get it to stick to the rust, ha ha.

Now as for Haley June’s other sister Tina, we are very pleased to announce that she has got engaged to a very nice man named Harris. We are not sure if that is his first or last name. We are just glad she is finally getting married so that her four kids will finally have a daddy and not grow up thinking they have to be like their mama, bless her heart. It is one thing to work in a garage when you are young and do not have children, or when you are a man of course, but I do not think grown women with children ought to be in a workplace where their children are allowed to play with grease guns. They will never learn to use real guns and shoot deer that way. We hope that this Harris man will straighten them out. Since he is a drama professor at that community college, we don’t have real high hopes, but maybe he will at least make them keep their clothes clean, and their uncle Harvey can teach them all about deer-hunting. Last week he took the boys out and let them shoot their pellet guns at the reindeers on people’s roofs, but they did not bring any home like they did last year, thank goodness. Mavis Claymore still gives me dirty looks in the grocery store because of that, but she ought to know that Harvey only shot her old white plastic reindeer to get her attention because he was sweet on her.

Speaking of Harvey, my brother had his big 5-0 birthday this year and celebrated with a real rowdy wing-ding at that beer joint out on County Road 141. As y’all may know, the beer joint had to close down on account of the damages from the free-for-all that broke out over the wrasslin’ match on the big-screen TV. If you ask me, having a TV in a bar is just asking for trouble, because any fool knows that when you get people all liquored up and give them a good wrasslin’ match to argue over, things are liable to get busted up. This is why I do not allow drinking in our house, only down in the basement where there is nothing they can break, except their necks trying to climb up the stairs, ha ha. Anyways, there is a donation fund to raise money for repairs, so if you have any money to spare, please send them a contribution and maybe they will not sue Harvey (who has no money to speak of after his wife ran off with it year before last).

My other brothers Cephus and Orly have managed to stay out of jail all year this year. They have been busy working on that car, which they say they are going to race at Bristol in the spring. I think they are full of you-know-what, but if it is keeping them out of jail, then that is fine by me. By the way, Cephus says to tell Reverend Carlton that it was not him who stole the muffler off his Ford pickup while it was parked outside the church, and that it is not very Christian of you to accuse him like that. Cephus said those blisters on his hands came from putting a meatloaf sandwich into the toaster oven at the Deli-Go gas station, and that it was not from sneaking under your truck and grabbing hold of the muffler while it was still hot.

Mama is still about the same, bless her heart. The doctors tell her she would live a lot longer if she would stop smoking, but she is eighty-nine now so that argument don’t cut too much ice with her anymore. She has switched to smoking light 100’s though, and now she can get all the way from the kitchen to the back steps without sitting down to wheeze. She sends her love. I asked her if she had any special words of wisdom to pass along to y’all since she is about to hit 90 and has had a long and full life. She said to tell y’all, “Possum tastes better with a little barbecue sauce,” and, “Don’t never marry the same man more than twice.”

Anyways, that is how we are all doing here down in our neck of the woods. Hope you and your’n have a real Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and as that little ol’ Tiny Tim said, “God help us ever one.”

© Copyright 2006 Patrick Redding. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014.

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