A Tack In Your Hammer

Christmas time is with us again, and while we celebrate the birth of Jesus most of all, it’s also time to reflect on 2011 and recognize that none of us are worthy of the blessings we have received this year. I know that there is much written about this season, and if the truth be known, we probably get tired of reading the same old things.

So, with that risk in mind, here are a few Christmas week reflections from a bluegrass survivor.

I, like a lot of us, am very blessed to have grown up in a loving household that loved to listen to good music (bluegrass included). On occasion we would just start singing together in the kitchen, family room, or wherever the urge struck one of us. My favorite memories are the ones at Christmas time, gathered around the piano, with my Dad or my sister sitting on the stool playing while the rest of us would belt out Silent Night or Jingle Bells.

I guess now I should talk about our piano. The instrument itself was nothing special until my dad got it home, brand new from the music store where he purchased it. As soon as the delivery guys left, my dad opened up the top, then looked down in there and said, “I’ve always wanted to do this.”

He promptly pulled a box of thumb tacks from his pocket and began inserting a tack into the tip of each hammer, so that the tack would strike the string instead of the padded hammer. What a sound came out! It was like nothing that I had ever heard. Quite frankly I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on.

My sister wasn’t real happy with this, as I remember, because she needed to practice her piano lessons on it, and she said that it made her sound like she was practicing in a bar room. My dad would say “what’s wrong with that?”

Dad’s sense of humor was quick and it always had a point. One time he looked out in the driveway and saw my dirty car and said “why don’t you wash your car?” I replied that “It will just get dirty again.” His response was, “Didn’t I teach you to wipe”? He was sure straight and to the point, and made his point with humor.

Christmas time is when I reflect on all of the memories from when I was a boy, to my life in general, and to the many friends that I have made and lost through the years. Some have gone on to be with Jesus, and some I haven’t spoken with in many years. This is as much their fault as it is mine, given the day and age we live in, where communication is easier than ever.

As I reflect on 2011, it would be easy to feel sorry for myself and get down and out. But when I think of the positives for this year, I realize that the good outweighs the bad and I have a lot to be thankful for. I am truly blessed to pursue a writing and musical endeavor. I am also blessed that my mother has turned 89 this year and still makes the meanest cornbread and biscuits I have ever eaten.

I am truly thankful that I have an understanding wife that loves me even when I’m not the easiest person sometimes to be around. I am blessed with good picking partners in Jim and Valerie Gabehart, along with new friend Brandon Shuping.

My health is reasonably good with a few minor problems, but the good Lord sees fit that I am still kicking. Maybe he has a plan – I pray that he does.

Praying is good folks, so pray for your needs as well as others. This is my humble advice. It works for Tim Tebow.

2012 will be here before you know it. I have never been one for New Years Resolutions but this year I may indulge myself a little and promise to be a better communicator with old friends.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that I hope everyone who is reading down this far has had a Merry and Joyous Christmas, and to say here’s a tack in your hammer.

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About the Author

Buck Green

Buck Green, or John "Buckwheat" Green as he is also known, has performed as a bluegrass musician most of his life. He worked with Lonesome River Band in the 1980s, and wrote one of their more popular songs of that era, The Old Man In The Shanty. Buck currently performs with Jim & Valerie Gabehart on bass.

  • John Franklin

    Hey John. Glad to see you are doing well . Been reading about some of your accomplishments. Email me at nobogez1@comcast.net and lets catch up. How’s Sandy?

    John Franklin
    Danville< Va.