Things don’t change much in Harvey County. As my daughter always says, “Daddy, some things never change and you’re one of ’em.”
The official kick-off for the season is lawyer Roy Davidson’s Christmas party. Some of y’all read about it in “The Mandolin Case.” It’s a saints and sinners kinda gig; open to everyone from the judge to the law to the criminals, both the blue and white collar variety. There usually aren’t more than a couple of prisoners. They they have to wear those orange suits with HCJ on the back, but they’re welcome. Most of ’em aren’t too bad; just got into too much shine.
Lou Bedford brings the best gumbo from the Billiard and Bowl, and there are cheese balls and roast beef, and pudding or red velvet cake for dessert. There’s sweet tea and Co-Cola in the living room and Southern Comfort out on the back porch.
Darin always drives over from Cherryville in Gaston County and we play twin mandolin Christmas carols in the parlor for Fred who was a huge Country Gentlemen fan. We always play “What Child is This” (we do it in Am) ’cause Roy likes it so much. My Mom and Dad sit at our table every year. They’re still thankful I didn’t run off and become one of those Beatles, and are tickled Darin is my main musical influence, ’cause he’s a good boy. I was too, just ask Mama.
The second Friday is always the Sandy River Cats gig at the old banker’s house. I always sit in with them. Sandy River is the only swing band in these parts. We play music mostly from the 40s and 50s; Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby, Glen Miller etc. My favorite on the mandolin for our annual Christmas gig is “Let it Snow.”
Farmer Cline hitches up his horses for carriage rides downtown, and Harvey Methodist still puts on the traditional Christmas pageant. One year my kids graduated all the way to Mary and Joseph, but they started out as donkeys like everyone else.
Patients bring everything from banana bread to Whitman’s Sampler boxes to the office. Yesterday an eighteen wheeler pulled up out in the parking lot. The driver walked to the front desk, and said he had a package from his friend Billy the truck driver. When I opened it I had to chuckle. It was Gotham Writers’ Workshop “Writing Fiction.” I reckon Billy sent it as a message; ‘You’re doing good, Doc, but you must continue to study; there is still much to learn.’
Billy is an enigma. A truck driver who loves Faulkner and writes poetry, yet only got interested in bluegrass via a physician bluegrass fiction blog. One of his favorite writers is Silas House, because Mr. House got a lot of his ideas driving his mail route. Billy said Silas was a smart man, ’cause he never wasted his driving time, but instead thought up books in his head while he was on the job. Then all he had to do was go home and write ’em down. One of these days Billy is gonna write a truck driver book; you wait and see.
Billy listens to books on his Kindle as he travels the highways. He predicts the day after Christmas will be the biggest day for e-book sales in history, and sent me a card that he hopes everyone would download “The Mandolin Case.”
You can never judge people. Until you get to know ’em you don’t know ’em. Billy might not have a college degree, but he knows a lot because he reads. I’ve never met Billy, yet because he is a reader I have learned a lot from him.
Anyway, when this fellow dropped off the package, he also asked if he could buy a copy of “The Mandolin Case.” He said he wanted to give it to his wife for Christmas, then turned red and mumbled something about page four. The man said he wasn’t much of a reader, but Billy had told him not to let that stop him. “There’s something in that book for everyone,” Billy had told the man.
I want to wish all of you the best of holidays. I have a lot on tap for the New Year. I’m gonna get headlong into my second book, “Acquisition Syndrome” and will update you as I go. Also I have a couple new blog pages planned and I’ll let you know about. My blog posts may not be quite as long as I hope to concentrate more on the new book, but I’ll be here regular, at least once or twice a week.
The kids are due in, the wife and I are well, and there is much music to play, so I’ll see y’all right after the New Year. My loyalty list is still the same. The top of the page starts with faith and family, close friends, staff, patients, and music and golf pals, but dang if my readers haven’t become high on my list too. I’ve learned a lot from all of you and always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I better put my agent and editor in there too; those guys are hard to come by, and I don’t ever want to have to look for new ones. It’s sorta like if you got lucky and found the right spouse, no use to make any changes when you’re that fortunate.
May you have a blessed holiday. All the best for 2011,