Roger Traweek The
"Doc" Dale Hayes A Gift for Mary Lou
It was getting on towards evening on a cold December night
The chores were done; the lamps were filled; the barns were shut up tight.
I was just a lad of eight and eager to believe,
That Santa Claus would soon be here, for this was Christmas Eve!
I hung around the kitchen...pestered Mom until she snapped,
Why dont you go out and play, or lie down and take a nap,
Or go out and watch for Santa because hell be coming soon;
Youll see the shadow of his sleigh as he passes by the moon.
Going out to play on Christmas Eve or trying to take a nap
Held no appeal for me that day; it just wasnt on my map!
But to have a Santa Sighting was a pastime Id enjoy,
And if I could catch a glimpse of him, Id be a lucky boy!
So I put on my heavy coat and pulled my cap down tight,
And headed toward the haystack where Id watch for him that night.
I climbed up to its very top and made a cozy nest
Where I curled up with a barnyard cat and then laid back to rest.
I saw the twilight fade away; stars popped out one by one,
Bright points of light that winked goodnight at the disappearing sun.
And not to be outshone, the moon chased shadows oer the snow,
While I snuggled warmly with my cat in our clovered watch below.
I listened til my ears hurt and maintained a watchful eye
For any sign of Santa in that wide Montana sky.
Across the miles of silvering sky my fantasies took flight,
And soon the sound of sleighbells jingled softly in the night,
As a jolly teamster cracked his whip and urged his coursers on
To meet his busy schedule ere this magic night was gone.
His sleigh was overflowing, a trove of precious treasures,
All wrapped with bows and ribbons for the true believers pleasures.
Trains and dolls and tops and sleds spilled out of one big sack,
And another bulged with candy canes and fruits and nuts to crack.
I heard a hearty Ho-Ho-Ho!, and shivered with delight
Then settled deeper in the hay, for it was cold that night.
The harness on the reindeer gleamed as they danced and pranced so high,
And flying sparks from their flashing hooves left trails across the sky
That settled down like stardust, all a-twinkle and aglow;
And some may have fallen on me, tho I really do not know.
My eyes grew heavy as I yawned in the bower where I sat
And the last sound I remember was the purring of my cat.
How long I lay transfixed that night, I can really only guess;
It might have been just minutes, or an hour, more or less.
Suddenly Mom was calling me, and I started from my trance;
I looked with wonder all around and caught a fleeting glance
Of Santa and his reindeer heading swiftly out of sight.
I jumped quickly from the haystack and ran through the frosty night,
And burst into our cheerful house and quickly looked to see
If that old elf had stopped in there and what hed left for me.
Around our Christmas tree the gifts were spread out on the floor
With something there for everyone, but for me a little more;
For what happened on that Christmas Eve lives in my memories
And I can call it back again, any time I please.
It wasnt wrapped with tinsel, nor sparkling bows to make it shine
It was just a childhood memory...none like it...only mine.
Yes, it happened just that way back then; and if you, too, believe,
Youll have memories of your own someday of a special Christmas Eve.
© Roger L. Traweek, December 2000
Read more poems by Roger Traweek here.
A Gift for Mary Lou
It was the depths of the depression
and he was glad to have a job of any kind.
$30.00 dollars a month, bunk house and grub
was not big money but it was the best he could find.
Ranches were having a rough time of it
and a lot of ranchers had folded in and quit
but Old Hiram Jones, who owned the 2 Bar M
back in a canyon off of Sedona Creek,
had hired him on and he was riding out seven days a week.
Each month he sent home $28.00 to Mary Lou
to keep the kids fed and to see them through.
It was Christmas and he was riding down Prescott way.
Mr. Jones was a good man and hed said
Go see your wife, son, but be back New Years Day.
Hank had only had money to buy Millie a little doll
and Jessie just one little tiny soldier made of tin.
No Christmas present for Mary Lou, once again.
Shed understand and, sure enough,
thered be a scarf or a sweater for him shed knit
but no present for her hung heavy and he worried about it.
Dear Lord, I just wish I had something nice for her.
Ah, well! Not this Christmas but next one, for sure!
The ride over the mountain had been right tough
and bitter cold as his old leather coat wasnt warm enough.
He was glad to ride down into the lower valley at last,
particularly knowing the hour to his spread would go fast.
He passed through the village and by the general store
and he wrestled once again, once more,
with the want and the need to get something for Mary Lou
but he had only 4 cents in his old jeans. What would that do?
As he rode out of the village, he was deep in thought on
what he would say to her
and his thoughts and eyes both seem to blur.
Suddenly his mind startled as from behind he heard
A merry shout and a kindly spoken word:
Good morning, young cowhand!
Merry Christmas to you and to yours!
Riding up next to him was an antique of an old man
showing the wear of many years from the battered hat
down to his old Spanish spurs.
Good morning back to you, Sir! I trust you are well!
Yep! Thank you, young feller. With your kind permission
Ill ride with you for a spell
On out to just past the old Spanish Mission."
The old mans Sorrell settled in at an easy pace
and a smile lit up the deeply tanned weathered face.
You look a tad worn for a fellows got the world by the tail
Hank laughed about that as they rode along the trail.
Im going home to see my wife, daughter, and my little boy.
Then, for some reason, he told about the doll and little tin toy.
Whatd you get for your wife, asked the old man.
Thats all I could do as it was all the money I had to hand.
Too bad, young feller. Im sure shell understand.
With that he reached down on the off side of his mare
and hauled up a tie of flowers so grand theyd make you stare.
Where had the old man got such flowers at that time of year?
In the high mountain desert the ground was frozen solid
up to a hundred miles from there.
Theyre silk, said the old man. I ordered em from back New York way.
She loves flowers. Yes Sir! She loves flowers, my Anna Mae.
Theyre right nice, sir! Hank said with a wistful glance.
They rode in silence to the trail leading off to Hanks ranch.
Well, sir. I turn off here, so I wish a fine Christmas to you and your Anna Mae.
Thank you, lad! Im just going a little further up this way.
Then the old man held out the flowers, saying Take these for your Mary Lou.
I couldnt do that, sir. Im grateful and its real fine of you.
Dont you argue with your elders. Take them, young man!
I can tell you for sure that my Anna Mae will understand!
Shes had flowers going on thirty Christmases, pretty near
And that wife of yours deserves something special this year.
Haltingly and with tears in his eye, Hank took the bouquet,
said his goodbye and rode up the trail on his homeward way.
The old man smiled and urged his horse on down the trail.
Hank topped the ridge, looking back as the light started to fail
and by straining his eyes and focussing real hard
he could see the old man ride into the untended grave yard
at the abandoned old Spanish church ground.
He dismounted beside a weathered cross on a grave mound
and kneeling, holding his hat in his hand,
he explained to Anna Mae, and he was right, she did understand.
Thirty Christmases later,
Mary Lou told her grandchildren the best
Christmas she ever had after marrying Hank
and moving out West
was the one when she got the silk flower bouquet
and how happy it had made her that Christmas day.
Hank never told her that hed stopped at the general store
and inquired after the old wrangler
whose flowers for Anna Mae had warmed Mary Lou
down to the core.
Anna Mae had died nine years before, taken by the flu,
and her husband, Luther, had died the next year, in 1922,
when he and his big Sorrell horse had been swept away
in a coulee flooded by a cloud burst on Christmas Day.
© 12/2000 Doc Dale Hayes, All rights Reserved
Read more of "Doc" Dale Hayes' poetry here.
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