A Different Sort of Christmas Story

Today’s guest post was written by Garland Davis.


My uncle was a Redneck and a tobacco farmer. But the farming was just a front to fool the revenuers. His primary occupation was as a purveyor of non-tax paid alcohol, otherwise known as moonshine, white likker, and in more recent times, ethanol. He often conducted protracted quality assurance tests of his product, in other words, he got drunk and stayed drunk for days. 

I remember one Christmas when I was eight or nine years old. I already knew that Santa Claus was a fictional character that children are misled to believe in. My younger brothers, sister, and many of my cousins still thought that Santa Claus broke into their houses on Christmas Eve and left them toys and ugly clothing. 

It was a snowy afternoon and evening. My father and uncles worked for the state highway department and had been called to work operating snowplows scraping snow off the roads and highways. My family along with two of my aunts and many of my cousins were at our grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve. We had finished supper; the other kids and I were in the living room playing Monopoly or listening to the radio (this was before anyone I knew had TV). The adults were in the kitchen making Christmas cookies and talking when my redneck uncle showed up. 

He parked in the front yard and came into the house carrying a shotgun in one hand and a quart fruit jar in the other. I never knew how to take him. I don’t know whether he liked kids or not, but he always acted as if he didn’t. We were all a little afraid of him. He went into the kitchen and set the shotgun in the corner by the door. He sat down at the table and asked for a glass and another glass of water. His method of drinking was to pour a half glass of whiskey with a glass of water on the side. It may take an hour, but when he drank, he killed the whiskey and followed it with the water. Then he would refill the glasses and begin the wait until the next time. 

After about an hour, he yelled, “Hey all you young’uns git in here! I brought you some candy. 

The younger kids jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I trepidatiously followed. He had a pile of candy on the table and was handing it out. My aunts and mother were reminding the kids to say, “Thank You” and were smiling at their children. 

My uncle suddenly said, “Be quiet, I heered something.” He jumped up grabbed his shotgun saying, “Hear that?” and went through the door onto the back porch. Almost immediately the gun fired and then again. Everyone was wondering what he was shooting at. I started through the door, but Mom grabbed me and said, “Don’t go out there.” 

He comes back through the door and sets the shotgun back in the corner and says, “Well they ain’t gonna be no Sandy Claus this year. I just run him off.” 

Those Santa Claus-believing kids probably suffered mental problems and would have required therapy in these more progressive years. 

I must have inherited some of the same genes as my uncle. I thought it was funny then and still think it is hilarious. 

-Garland Davis

Garlands’s story may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it made me smile. I was raised by a group of people who liked to aggravate the living daylights out of children.

Pap’s side of the family, especially his brothers, were notorious for picking on kids. If you were a Wilson child you either learned to fight back with force or to take the route I did—totally ignore them so they’d go pick on someone else. Now that sort of treatment may sound mean or even demeaning, but it wasn’t not in the least. These same people who loved to aggravate would have fought a circle saw for any of us and although they might drive us crazy or even bring us to tears of frustration every once in a while we loved them with a fierceness that is hard to put into words.

Last night’s video: Traditional Gingerbread Cookies in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    December 17, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    Yes,i know a few like that. Didn’t care much being around them drunks. As a child. I had my share of that, being my dad made moonshine for a living. We didn’t know o Saint nick.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. I’ve got some people like this in my family too!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Great Stories , that shooting at Santa part is hilarious!! I think its great but my Grandpa Alvie shares your name Garland, only it is his last name . He picked on us girls something fierce and everyone said thats how ya know he loves ya, I remember saying he must really Love Grandmas plants then cause he be watering them singing die die die her plants grew so big and she never knew its cause they did it to spite Grandpa Alvie , the one stuck with the job of watering plants and babysitting all four of us lil girls…. Christmas was always fun at their house ❤️

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Love Garlands tells of the old days. Makes me laugh to think of those youngins faces at the thought Santa was scared off on Christmas Eve.
    People now days have been raised to be pansies and would need mental heath therapy to get through what we had to as kids. It made us strong.

  • Reply
    GoodGriefLouise (Bill)
    December 16, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    I had a Redneck Uncle who absolutely loved kids. Didn’t matter who’s kids they were he loved them all. More than once if a bunch of us brothers, sisters and our cousins were at his house and we were running around like heathern’s he would pile us all in the bed of his truck and take us to the drive in movies to get us away from those grumpy parents that wanted us to sit quietly and not make any noise. When we got to the drive in movie he would go with us up to the playground area below the big screen and play with us just like he was one of the kids. I guess in a way he was. We all loved him and cried and cried when he died.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    Growing up in a family of 9 kids with more than a dozen aunts and uncles by blood plus an equal number by marriage, practical jokes, pranks, and what would be erroneously called ‘bullying’ today were commonplace. One such instance would generate reprisals that sometimes were long-delayed and cleverly executed. My parents would sometimes originate mild pranks.

    When my older brother was a teenager and prone to come home very late . . . long past curfew. My mother put a hat on the newel ball at the bottom of the staircase in the entry hall and draped a coat behind it and painted a face on paper that she put on the ball. When Jim came creeping in she somehow made the ‘dummy’ make a sound and when he turned and saw it ran back out of the house. She would also short-sheet a past curfew sibling. And, she was born not in the last century but very late in the one before that.

    I could tell a book’s worth of tales about aunts and uncles and cousins and moonshine and shotguns, some painful but mostly funny. And, ‘yes’ all of them would fight a circle saw and walk through Hellfire for family.

    If today’s young folks aren’t tough enough and need safe spaces and comfort toys, put it down to bad parenting and not enough needling and pranks when they were coming along. How else are they going to learn about life’s challenges?

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    I absolutely loved Garland’s story. Growing up in a big family of jokesters sure could make you toughen up. We knew without a doubt we were loved by all the family, and they looked out for each other. Come Summertime we always had a big choice of where and who we wanted to spend a week with. Christmas sometimes meant not as much visiting because it was oftentimes snowy and cold in our mountains, and as a child meant having to put chains on the vehicle to even go to the store. Summer was different, and Summer holidays celebrated to the max. My aunt and I were just talking yesterday about playing with the dry ice on the 4th and also what we called then “quick silver.” Both now considered extremely dangerous, along with all the smokers in the family. I had not thought about the quick silver for ages, and I had to do a quick google to find it was the dreaded mercury. The memory is vague, but it seems we would drop a dime in the quick silver to watch it look good as new. It was not uncommon to chew on a lead pencil while learning our cursive. The more they issue warnings the more I wonder how I survived my childhood.
    Many sweet Christmas memories including our yearly gag gift for an unsuspecting person. The sledding around Christmas! A really humorous memory is when our high school principal got on the loudspeaker to notify that anybody throwing snowballs at lunch was to come to the office. Possibly as many as one fourth of the school attendees headed for the office. Amazingly, I was not among them!

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    December 16, 2021 at 11:23 am

    I think about everyone in Appalachia may have an uncle or another relative who. comes to mind like this. For some of us I in our family it was nearly a Saturday nite occurrence but I remember those nites fondly. Humerous memories.

  • Reply
    Kimberly H. Glenn
    December 16, 2021 at 10:46 am

    I think every family has one of these. Keeps us humble!

  • Reply
    Mark Taylor
    December 16, 2021 at 10:30 am

    I can remember my grandfather shooting a shotgun early on Christmas morning to scare off Santa. As a 5 or 6 year old it kind of frightened me and my brothers but we quickly forgot about that as soon as we saw that Santa left presents before he was scared off. This was a tradition that my grandfather experienced when he was a small child. Great memories.


  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 10:29 am

    I remember my Mother telling many stories about her 10 siblings and no matter what they got in to she would not uphold wrong actions but she would defend them with that phrase “I would have fought a circle saw for them.” That unfailing love for each other was there for the whole family.
    I enjoyed watching you make those cookies but I really smiled listening to you and Corrie talking about how life was back in your Grandmother Gazzies day and today. I have two of my Grandmother’s snuff glasses which are identical; of course, to the one you cut cookies with. My youngest son will always go get them out and pour some cold milk while bringing me a cookie or two. It brings a tug at my heart that he views those old glasses as very special heirlooms which they are to me and my sons.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    December 16, 2021 at 9:43 am

    So funny! We have all had some things to happen in our childhood that should make us run to a therapist!! I agree with Miss Cindy – family is family! Take care and God bless!!

  • Reply
    James Obenchain
    December 16, 2021 at 9:38 am

    always enjoy your stories I live in Hopkins County Hard hit by Tornados 15killed75 killed in Ky it threw a 28 car coal train off trak an into houses 5 miles from me . I hah no power or heat for 56 hours otherwise ok

    • Reply
      December 16, 2021 at 11:57 am

      James-It’s good to hear from you! I’m so sorry for the loss so many suffered during the outbreak of storms. My heart goes out to them all. Thankful you made it through okay.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 9:29 am

    Really enjoyed today’s post. My family were basically ‘tee-totalers’ until they left home. Some of the comments hit home too, especially JIMK’s. A person never knows what to expect now-a-days. Many of us are so thankful we grew up in the good-old days.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 9:23 am

    My dad was great to tease-but never about really sensitive issues. He played jokes that made us laugh. He wasn’t much to hug after we were past toddler years but when he played & joked with us we knew we were loved.

    He kept a bottle but it was only for a nightcap or a hot toddy after working out in the cold. There were always guns in the house for hunting rabbits, squirrel, the occasional pheasant & later on deer. We ate the meat. Only the groundhog shot for eating the corn roots was wasted meat.

    Thankful for our SW Ohio farm home & family!

    Grateful for your posts & videos …now eagerly awaiting the next chapter of ‘Mountain Path’ on YouTube.


  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 9:12 am

    I only had one uncle, the quietest and most laid-back man I ever knew. No pranks from him but fifteen aunts married some pranksters. One uncle used to take his hat off and hold it under my chin while I was crying. He would say, “I’m gonna hold this right here till you cry me a hat full, Cottontop.” I didn’t like his hat under my chin and hated it when he called me Cottontop so I just cried harder.

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    December 16, 2021 at 9:12 am

    I love this one! I think he must have been a fly in the wall at our family Christmas gatherings. It may sound terrible to some, but just like you said, we knew how to deal with it as children and now it makes us giggle when we look back.
    Thank you for posting this one as it has had me laughing during my morning coffee!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 16, 2021 at 8:31 am

    I never heard of Santy Claws until I was in school. There a scholarly debate erupted amongst 1st graders as to whether or not he existed. I aligned myself with those who had never heard of such. When I got home Mommy said “There ain’t no such of a thing!” Daddy said “Santy Claws is a lie foisted on children in an effort to cajole them into behaving.”
    A strange little man who keeps a list of children’s names and brings them gifts in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t he classified more of a pedophile than a saint?

    This is a statement on society not on Garland’s writing! I read a lot of his stuff. Not many writers make me laugh out loud. He does!

  • Reply
    Ray Sugg
    December 16, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Great story! I also had a drunk uncle, and a redneck tobacco farmer uncle (not the same person, though!)

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 16, 2021 at 8:02 am

    You gave me a smile this morning Tipper with your expression “fight a circle saw”. My Dad would say that. You have reminded me of so many of his expressions I started a list. This is one more to add.

    Boy, do I recall the grownups teasing the kids. I had my share of that, especially at the beginning of the teen years when teasing was about “sparkin” or “courtin”. We had a great-uncle and great-aunt so bad my sister dubbed the Aunt Pick anf Uncle Gouge (though they never knew it).

    I can see why the kids could never quite figure out Garland’s uncle; giving out candy but running Santa Claus off. I’ll bet their eyes were big as saucers when he announced that. sounds like he was one to be a little leery of. That business of mixing moonshine and shotguns is a reason non-drinkers and most of the drinkers to were “down on” the moonshine trade.

  • Reply
    Kevin Knight
    December 16, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Thanx Tipper for the post. Reading that reminded me of some of my relatives when I was very young. Sure am glad I did not follow that example. Alcohol and guns makes for a volatile environment.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    December 16, 2021 at 7:35 am

    I loved Garland Davis’ story about his uncle. That uncle’s sense of humor was dry, and wicked. Wicked as in grab-your-stomach-because-you-are-laughing-so-hard, not evil wicked. Mr. Davis’ story gave me a good laugh this morning. Tipper, your family sounds wonderful! As a kid, I probably would have worn my heart on my sleeve, as I still do (you can tell by my face what I am thinking – I would not be a good poker player!). I would have kept quiet, though, because I was shy. Today my sense of humor can be pretty dry sometimes, too. And I will fiercely defend my family and friends, and even strangers, even if I think some things are funny that the more tender hearted would frown on. Does that make me sound evil or mean? There is a difference between laughing with someone and laughing at someone – although that can be a thin line at times! I loved this guest post. Thank you!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 7:33 am

    That reminded me of the time my papaw pretended to be Santa Claus. I couldn’t have been over 3 or 4 yrs. old and I believed he was Santa. Dad and mom never taught me to believe in Santa Claus.

    I had an uncle who loved to pester children and would sometimes give them a small pinch. He had a nephew that only lived about a mile up the gravel road and the uncle would eat my cousin’s peanut butter. It got so my cousin would watch for our uncle and would scream here comes uncle Floyd, hide the peanut butter!

    I could write more examples and some are better not told, but you are right they would have fought a running sawmill to protect us.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    December 16, 2021 at 7:21 am

    I think the story is harsh, but funny. Today the kids have “safe spaces” and are taught a victim mentality. In the old days, you got your “feelers” hurt quite often, but it made you tough or weak so pick one and live it!!!! Once on the 4th of July my granddaddy had gone on a bender (or a week or two of solid drunkenness.) We were outside eating watermelon and having a good time. He came to the door drunk and so I picked up the water hose at about 4 or 5 years old and sprayed his drunk tail through the screen…he was a good man, but he’d get in a drunk about twice a year on a bender. To this day, I can’t stand to be around big drinkers and will not tolerate it. Ive thought about shooting Santa myself in a state of sobriety once or twice over the years…

    • Reply
      December 16, 2021 at 10:02 am

      My daddy hated alcohol and a drunk with a passion. I think he had several uncles that were alcoholics and all of them died at a early age. I only knew one my great uncles and he did not drink. I am 67 years old and my wife was 65 when she passed away this year and neither us or our families would drink any type of alcoholic drink. We would never eat at a restaurant that had a bar. It made us uncomfortable being around anyone drinking. When I was a teenager I heard a recovering alcoholic say no alcoholic every took his first drink intending to become an alcoholic. As a Christian I don’t think getting drunk at Christmas is proper way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

      Tipper, I did grin a little when reading this story. My daddy and me like to tease a lot.

  • Reply
    Matt Thompson
    December 16, 2021 at 7:10 am

    This sounds about right. We had a ‘drunk uncle’ in our family that always told crude jokes and such. Guess I’m warped as reading this made me smile too. It sold a lot like a family member of mine and brings back memories…albeit interesting.

  • Reply
    Ed Choffin
    December 16, 2021 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for sharing this story! It reminded me of a similar event in my younger days and put a smile on my face. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2021 at 6:54 am

    Growing up I knew several “characters” who could have been Garland Davis’s uncle.
    One use to dress as Santa and visit the neighbors kids on Christmas Eve ( if he wasn’t in jail or too drunk). In this days society you’d read about them being arrested for putting the children in harms way.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    December 16, 2021 at 6:54 am

    My husband’s brother was like this uncle. He would rather torment kids than eat. Full of pranks and laughter. Our kids loved him and our oldest son took up where he left off LOL .
    I really enjoyed watching you and Cory baking cookies last night. It was like sitting in the kitchen with dear friends. It’s so good to see family staying connected and enjoying being together ❤ Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 16, 2021 at 6:36 am

    Family is family, you got to love them!

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