A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer
I ain't much good at prayin',
and You may not know me, Lord --
For I ain't much seen in churches,
where they preach Thy Holy Word.
But you may have observed me
out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin' after cattle,
feelin' thankful when it rains.
Admirin' Thy great handiwork.
the miracle of the grass,
Aware of Thy kind Spirit,
in the way it comes to pass
That hired men on horseback
and the livestock that we tend
Can look up at the stars at night,
and know we've got a Friend.
So here's ol' Christmas comin' on,
remindin' us again
Of Him whose coming brought good will
into the hearts of men.
A cowboy ain't a preacher, Lord,
but if You'll hear my prayer,
I'll ask as good as we have got
for all men everywhere.
Don't let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
Don't let no child be cold.
Make easy the beds for them that's sick
and them that's weak and old.
Let kindness bless the trail we ride,
no matter what we're after,
And sorter keep us on Your side,
in tears as well as laughter.
I've seen ol' cows a-starvin' -
and it ain't no happy sight;
Please don't leave no one hungry, Lord,
on Thy Good Christmas Night --
No man, no child, no woman,
and no critter on four feet
I'll do my doggone best
to help you find 'em chuck to eat.
I'm just a sinful cowpoke, Lord --
ain't got no business prayin'
But still I hope you'll ketch a word
or two, of what I'm sayin':
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord--
I reckon You'll agree --
There ain't no Merry Christmas
for nobody that ain't free!
So one thing more I ask You,
Lord: just help us what You can
To save some seeds of freedom
for the future Sons of Man!
S. Omar Barker; reprinted with permission from Cowboy Miner Productions
Running in the Team
Santa Claus is nearly on his way,
He's just got two weeks or so,
It's time to get them reindeer caught,
and gentled some you know.
Because ol' Dasher and the others,
have been running loose all year,
And I'll tell you at the best of times,
they are nearly wild as deer!
So Santa saddles his best horse,
To gather in the team,
Chasing flying deer on Pegasus,
now there's a cowboy's dream !
© 2004, Mike Puhallo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Read more poetry by Mike Puhallo here.
You can read a fresh Meadow Muffin from Mike every week at the BCCHS Cowboy Poets' page and at Cowboylife.com.
A Christmas Prayer
Sure is pretty here tonight, there's excitement in the air
Busy shoppers hustle home through Central Park.
The tree must be ten stories tall in Rockefeller Square
A million lights are sparkling in the dark.
It's a fast-paced life I'm living; it's first class all the way.
Fancy office, fancy parties, fancy things.
"I'm shooting for the works" is what my friends all heard me say,
And now I dine with presidents and kings.
Oh, it's glamorous all right, success and all the rest.
And maybe it's this little skiff of snow.
But tonight I'm kind of lonesome for a little place out west,
And a cowboy down the road I used to know.
I bet an opal moon shines on the Eastern Slopes tonight,
The hills lie still beneath a snowy shawl.
Chores are done, the porch light's on, a fire crackles bright,
Maybe Ian's singing at the Longview Hall.
It's the symphony for me tonight, Champagne and caviar.
Oh, the swirl and sway and sparkle of this place!
But you know, I kind of long to hear a cowboy's soft guitar
And to feel a warm Chinook upon my face.
Where'd she go-that little girl who used to live in cowboy boots,
Made sure each year the reindeer got some hay.
She's not gone far-just dresses now in silk designer suits
And is living life the New York City way.
Sure is pretty here tonight, there's excitement in the air.
A dab of French perfume-my cab is here.
In the swirl and sway and sparkle, I say a Christmas prayer:
"May it be Christmas in Alberta for me next year."
© 2003, Doris Daley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Read more of Doris Daley's poetry here.
How Far is it to Bethlehem
"How far is it to Bethlehem,"
a young cowboy asked his pard'
while riding 'cross the open range
as the snow was falling hard.
It was coming on to Christmas,
and the two were out alone,
pushing cows to lower pasture
where the blizzard hadn't blown.
"I know it's past Chicago,
crosst' the ocean anyhow;
I still don't know just where it's at,
but a far piece I'd allow."
His partner rode a while in thought,
like he hadn't even heard.
"It's a right far piece from Heaven,
you can take me at my word."
That's all he said for 'most an hour,
while they hazed the cattle slow,
but his thoughts were on the Christ child
as they trudged on through the snow.
On the thought of that first Christmas,
and the gift God sent to earth,
of the truth of Jesus' coming,
and the blessing of His birth.
While riding on he understood
Where these thoughts of Christmas lead,
And bringing words up from his heart
The old cowboy softly said:
"I've no clue to mark the distance,
of the mile, ..... I'm at a loss.
How far is it to Bethlehem?
It's just half way to the cross."
© 2004, Gail T. Burton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission
Read more poetry by Gail T. Burton here.
Givin' a Little Back
Don't you just love the holidays? By this time of year most of us have pretty well given up on all the work we had planned for this fall (to be totally honest, we really didn't think we'd ever get it all done anyway), and we take a little time to kick back and relax and be thankful for what we have. A lot of the rest of the year we're just too durn busy trying to stay on top of the work that's piling up before us to even think about it, but come Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can take a little time off to sit by the fire and sort of put everything back into perspective.
We've all had a disappointment or two this last year. Maybe we've lost someone, or have gotten a bad report from the doctor, or maybe it just didn't rain on time (again). But, no matter what kind of ruts you've encountered in the trail you've just come down, the secret is in keeping it all in perspective. That's one of the things I think I've finally gotten a handle on after all these years. If a fella will just start thankin' God for the things we HAVE, all of a sudden every one of those
good reasons we've figured out for feeling down in the dumps just sorta disappears. We've all got a lot more than we really need.
We can learn a lot from kids if we'll just take the time. Christmas is really all about kids, isn't it? What ever you do, don't make the mistake of spending too much money on 'em. I don't know how many times I've seen ours pull some expensive gadget out of a box and then throw it in the corner and play in the box. They would have been just as happy with a big empty box wrapped in pretty paper that needed rippin' off.
The real trick for us "long in the tooth folks" is to somehow catch a little glimpse of Christmas from a kid's point of view. That's really all it takes. True fulfillment only comes from capturing the awe and wonderment that comes so naturally to a child and translating it into doing something meaningful for someone else.
Here's a true story. Although I've got a bad reputation (somehow??) of sprinkling a liberal amount of BS in my stories, this one is exactly the way it happened.... honest. I'm just going to change the names for obvious reasons. The only way I even caught wind of this whole deal was by getting to know the guy that was on the receiving end of this little tale
after it happened. This is how the story unfolded.
Earl was a simple man with a wife and a couple of kids. A few years ago they lived just down the river from us in a farm house they'd rented. He was a good hard worker and provided well for his family, but he'd lost his job, and things were getting pretty tight around that camp. Earl was quite a hunter, so there really wasn't any danger of them starving to death, but work is awfully hard to find around here in the winter time. There sure wasn't going to be anything extra for
Christmas that year.
He was also a proud man. Not the kind of a guy that went around tellin' folks his troubles and asking for a handout. In fact, that was totally out of the question. They'd get by somehow. He gathered scrap iron for a few bucks to pay the light bill, and although everyone was getting sort of sick of venison three times a day, they were scraping by.... barely.
The big problem for Earl was that Christmas was coming. There isn't anything that will take the wind out of a man's sails like not being able to properly provide for his family. Christmas time can be pretty tough in a deal like that.
Bob and Betty somehow got wind of their predicament. They weren't folks of enormous means, by any stretch of the imagination, but they had made a practice of trying to find a family like Earl's to bless every Christmas. Bob operated a small business, and Betty was a stay-at-home Mom and a great cook. It was just a little special something that they had been doing for quite some time, but managed to keep it entirely to themselves.
It was their annual secret mission. They did it on the sly.... very few folks, except the ones that they'd helped over the years, even knew what was going on.
They'd somehow managed to find out how many kids Earl and his wife had, and their sizes, and just "showed up" one night after supper with a whole car load of goodies. I think there were new school coats for the kids, and I know there was a little toy or two. They also had in tow several boxes that contained a huge turkey with all the trimmin's, a sack of spuds
and a thousand other little treats; and those little things were the most special of all. They're the kinds of things a family with a real job would just normally take for granted. Whatever money Bob and Betty spent must have seemed like peanuts compared to the looks in the eyes of Earl's family that cold snowy night so many years ago.
That's the true spirit of Christmas.... helping to light a spark of hope and childish awe in the eyes of someone who needs a little boost of encouragement. In some cases, they may be just about ready to give up entirely. This Christmas, go do something nice for someone who doesn't expect it.... and if you want a REAL blessing....keep it a secret.
© 2004 Ken Overcast
This story may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission
Read more stories by Ken Overcast here in his occasional BAR-D column, Bear Valley Tales.
Ken sent a great Christmas offer from his mercantile:
You can do all of your shopping right at www.KenOvercast.com and an order of only six items or more will result in no shipping charge at all. That's right! We'll waive the normal shipping and even send all six of them to different addresses with a little note from you if you'd like. Just call the office now at 888-753-7611 and the gals there will fix you right up. Thanks.
Ken's Montana Cowboy CD received the True West Best Cowboy CD award, he has a new video/DVD release of his most-requested Kamikaze Cow, and his Yesterday's Yarns is a book that can keep you warm even through a long Montana winter (read Jeff Streeby's review here.)
Visit our Art Spur project for our poems
inspired by Charlie Russell's "Seein' Santa."
by Charles M. Russell, 1910
C. M. Russell Museum
Great Falls, Montana
reproduced with permission
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