Monday, December 18, 2017

A Christmas Tale (no, I don't live on Walton's Mountain)

December 18, 2017

Approaching Christmas brings to mind years of family tales. My family is good for a lot of laughs - please don't tell them I said that. One of my favorite stories is about Hooter the Owl. 

We live in a rural community. When I was young, it was a VERY rural community. I'm serious when I say I'm only a generation removed from a moonshiner. 

My grandfather was a unique individual. Yes, he made Apple Jack. He was a beekeeper, a truck farmer, a hunter, a skilled woodworker, and a lover of all the wild things that came into his yard. 

One autumn day Pop put on his boots and went out to do a walk-about. I swear he knew every tree and rock on his property. He came home with an injured owl. 

My grandmother was not pleased, but she had a soft heart for the wild ones, too. They both knew for Hooter to have a chance to survive, he needed a little help. Pop made a rough frame and wrapped it in chicken wire and Hooter had temporary digs. His wing would heal and they'd set him free, or..... let's not go there.

Pop had a way with critters. It wasn't long before Hooter knew the human was the source of chicken livers. Now what self-respecting owl would refuse that meal? Hooter made friends with Pop. The days passed and the Christmas season rolled around.

Back in those days, the late 1960's, everyone had a cut tree for Christmas. Pop got a tree and put it up. My grandmother called me to come help decorate it. All was well until Pop let Hooter out of his cage. 

Hooter couldn't yet fly again, but he sure could hop and run. He made a beeline for the tree and up he went! Not even chicken livers could coax him out of the tree. So my grandparents let him alone. They turned the lights on in the evenings and it was Christmas business as usual except for the owl. 

Hooter eventually came down and out - and in spectacular fashion. He hopped out of the tree into the middle of the Christmas day dinner table, right in front of my Dad's plate. It was fucking funny. Every Christmas dinner at my grandparent's house thereafter, my father made a big show of searching the Christmas tree for surprises. And Dad and Pop would laugh the way men do when they have an inside joke with each other. 

Those were the days. The Waltons have nothing on my family. 

KC Kendricks

No comments: