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Page Sixteen

Happy holidays folks!


The Night Before Christmas
     when Travis was 10 and Jill was 6

'Twas the night before Christmas and out at the Tacker's
They'd finished their supper of hot soup and crackers,
The chores were all done, the pigs watered and fed,
The Tackers were all getting ready for bed.
Then Jill said, "When Santa Claus comes here tonight,
He can't come down the chimney, the fire is too bright.
And I think he'll have horses pulling his sleigh
Just like my new pony that I rode today."
Marvin and Mary Cheryl and Travis all beamed.
They knew that when Jill went to bed she would dream
Of a sleigh full of toys and of old Santa too
Pulled with eight horses down out of the blue.
So they said their goodnights and they all hit the hay
To sleep till the dawn of the new Christmas Day.
But later that night Travis woke with a start
And flew to the window as fast as a dart,
'Cause he heard a loud "oink" and he muttered "Oh me,
The pigs are all out of their pins running free."
But when he looked out through the window he said,
"Now this can't be happening, it's all in my head."
But there was a sleigh and Santa Claus too,
And there at the front of the sleigh, two by two,
Not reindeer or horses like you might expect,
But pigs hitched in pairs stood bold and erect.
Berkshires, Yorkshires, Crosses and Spots
Had stopped at his window "cause the chimney was hot.
He opened the window and then he jumped back
"Cause in jumped old Santa Claus, right with his pack.
He grinned as he went right straight to the tree,
And Travis thought, "Why he's no bigger than me."
He set out some packages, looked all around,
Then back through the bedroom he came with a bound,
And out through the window and into the sleigh.
He looked back and waved when they all flew away
With Berky and Yorky and Bullet and Flash
All pulling that sleigh as they left in a dash.
He watched until they were all gone from his sight,
Then went back to bed for the rest of the night.
He smiled to himself for he surely had seen
Something that others just see in a dream.
Then early next morning he hopped up with glee,
And there in the living room under the tree
Were gifts that weren't there when they all went to bed,
And only he knew.   But then later he said,
"Something still bothers me and always might;
When Santa Claus came through my window that night,
Why didn't he, riding 'round in that rig
Smell like I do when I've been around pigs?"

LeRoy Jones

LeRoy adds: Travis is our oldest grandson and at the time I wrote the poem he was in 4H Club and had showed pigs in the livestock shows that first year.  Jill is our granddaughter.  Travis is now 24 and was married December 13. Jill is now 20.

LeRoy says he wrote this song "just a couple of weeks before Montgomery Ward closed up shop":

What Does a Cowboy Do for Christmas?

What does a cowboy do when it's Christmas?
And the snow is lyin' deep upon the ground?
With the lonesomes settin' in for his fam'ly and his friends
His Christmas cheer is nowhere to be found"
Where can a cowboy go when it's Christmas?
When he has to stay at home and feed his cows?
What does a cowboy do when it's Christmas?
He does just what I'm doin' now.

He's busy writin' out his Christmas cards
And orderin' gifts from Montgomery Ward's
And puttin' up his Christmas tree at night
He keeps his work up every day
Like choppin' ice and feedin' hay.
He's workin' every minute when it's light.
He's wonderin' if old Santa Claus
Can find him way out here because
Those reindeer might get lost without reprieve.
So he puts a star up on the roof
To guide each little reindeer hoof
So Santa can arrive on Christmas eve.

That's what a cowboy does when it's Christmas
And the snow is lyin' deep upon the ground
With the lonesomes settin' in and his fam'ly and his friends
With their Christmas cheer is nowhere to be found.
Where can a cowboy go when it's Christmas
When he has to stay at home and feed his cows?
What does a cowboy do when it's Christmas?
He does just what I'm doing now.   Yessiree
That's what I'm doing now.

Le Roy Jones

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Read more of LeRoy Jones' poetry here.

Happy holidays folks!


Naughty and Nice!

As Christmas approaches some stories are told
to warm and enlighten the spirit.
Now I've got a tale that I'm likely to share
with those who are willin' to hear it.

It all started out with an orn'ry old man
who most folks described as reclusive.
The old boy was known as both nasty and cold
and he could be downright abusive!

Christmas Eve came and found our old friend
closed up in his ragged old shack
Somethin' would happen that cold winter night
That would put the old man on attack!

He was overheard cussin' Santa Claus
in a manner both rude and aloof.
"I don't care what your name is fat man!
Get your reindeer off my roof!!"

Now this would have all blown over I'm sure
If not for a certain young child.
Had it been noticed by anyone else
I'm sure that they just would have smiled.

But the old man's remarks to the fat man in red
had fallen on innocent ears.
Poor little Timmy was scared half to death
as he peered through the brush and his tears!

He jumped from the bush and defiantly yelled
"Now you leave my Santa alone!"
"You don't need to be such an orn'ry old cuss,
it's no wonder you're all on your own!"

"You have to be nice 'cause it's Christmas time.
The Good Lord intended it so.
Now put down that gun and go back inside
'cause it's time for old Santa to go!"

Now 'Jed' was taken aback by the brass
displayed by this young boy in tears.
It seemed to set off a strange feelin' inside,
the kind that he'd not felt in years.

The feelin' he had was compassion I think.
'Least that's what it sounds like to me.
Jed put down his gun and called off the dog
and decided to let Santa be.

"You go along now," he said to St. Nick.
"And I'll see this young feller home.
I've got to change and I best do it quick
'cause we're nearin' the end of the poem!"

And there was a change in old Jed to be sure.
Young Timmy deserves all the praise.
It's funny how even the smallest of us
can help in the biggest of ways!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a
Happy Attitude!!

2003, Tom King

Read more of Tom King's poetry here.

Happy holidays folks!


Santa's Hat

It was a tough year at the Circle-B, and the end of it wasn't much better;
So it was that Johnny wrote ol' Santa Claus a letter.
He took his time with his penmanship, and each word was finely crafted
But the beauty lay in the meaning of that letter he had drafted.
He 'llowed as he was the oldest brother of Tom and Mary Lou,
So, at nine years old, it fell to him to watch out for the other two
'N he was worried that this year they just might not get no gifts,
Even though their Pa had been a'workin' extra shifts.

He wanted nothin' for himself, 'cause he could do without;
But Tom and Mary Lou was who that letter was about.
He wrote how he would be obliged if Santa could just bring
Some shiny-papered presents, maybe tied up with a string.

Who knows where that letter went: whose hands it had passed through?
But Christmas mornin' laughter sprang from Tom and Mary Lou
As he tried on a pair of guns: 'course, they were only toys
But that didn't matter a bit to him - you know how it is with boys...
And she unwrapped a baby doll, who maybe missed some curls,
But that didn't matter a bit to her - you know how it is with girls...
And as for Johnny, I'm glad to say, that he wasn't forgot:
He unwrapped a pocketknife - new, as if store bought.

Thinkin' 'bout this story really does my ol' heart good:
How Johnny loved his siblings, 'n how Santa understood.
They say that Santa wore a cowboy hat that Christmas Eve.
Do you believe in Santa Claus?  Johnny 'n I believe.

2003, Bruce Satta


Read more of Bruce Satta's poetry here.


Happy holidays folks!

In the Barn on Christmas Eve

Horses nicker gently, eyes adjusting to the light
What's that ol' fool, doin' here this time o'night?
Their greetin' is a welcome  to my longin' ear
In the barn, Christmas eve, as I am every year.

Mother often told of the beasts talkin' Christmas eve
If you'd listen at midnight and if you would believe;
If  your heart was good, you loved your fellow men
Cared for his creations, you'd hear them now & then.

Listen with your ears, but with your heart as well
In such a time of magic, why you could never tell;
Might stare at you silent, or speak of peace on earth
Dependin' on your outlook and on your inner worth.

The cattle are lowin' softly, in the run-in-shed
Look up as you enter, not a single word is said
Chew a cud, cock an ear, give you a  blank stare
Not  the slightest notion of what I'm doing there.

Elk out in the hayfield, flooded buy the full moonlight
Sneak into the hayrack, sometimes, just to bum a bite
Heads turn as your shadow is backlighted in the door
Like a livin' Christmas card from the One we all adore.

So every year, I'll be here, while you're at midnite mass
Rememberin' the story of  the Child... that came to pass
His story is an old one from a  land of palms and sand
So very near to them of us who work and love the land

Have I ever heard them speak?, Guess you could say so
Their words not spoken as we do, not in the way we know;
Spoken of care for all His works, land, critters-- other men
A star that shone, then, for us all and will shine for us again

12-01-02, S. J. Passamonte

Read more of S. J. Passamonte's poetry here

Happy holidays folks!


Our special columnist Charlie Camden keeps in touch with his views from "Just Beyond the Ridge," and following is Christmas letter:


To all of my Friends this Holiday Season,

Only two weeks ago I was high in the backcountry that separates Idaho from
Montana.  The weather around me was mild, and yet there was a foot of snow in the valleys, and the Peaks of the Selway Bitterroot Range towered above all,  with an immaculate new dressing of the purest white imaginable.  Over 2 million acres of empty country lay before me.   Hunting season was winding down, and for the second or third season in a row, I was willing to let it pass with only a minor pang of regret.  Previously in the early Autumn we had witnessed a severe deer die off in the Clearwater Valley.  Thousands of deer lay dead in the meadows, fields, and along the highways and many back roads.  Victims of a seemingly harmless gnat. Once bitten the deer had only a few hours to live, and died a terrible death foaming at the mouth.  This all occurred during the early bow season, and a few weeks prior to the
general rifle season.  It was a sad sight, and killed my interest in hunting
deer for at least this past season.

On the day of which I am speaking the weather cleared for the early morning
hours, and from many view areas, the world looked much as it must have
appeared before the earliest recorded time. It was a day for reflecting on
the past year, and as I stood at one overlook after another, fleeting
memories returned from the days of summer, when the sun cooked the mountains with unrelenting heat, and many of the mountains that I now observed were cleansed by searing fires of all their underbrush, as well as their normal canopy of towering evergreens. It was a summer of roads being blocked because of backcountry fires, a summer with a shortage of irrigation water for crops, a summer of sad memories, as well as the usual abundance of good memories.  I thought back further to my many years in the mountains of Montana and Idaho, and the many camps in all their wild places.  My thoughts traveled like a time ship to such places as the Flathead Alps, The vast Sun River Country on the East Side of the Bob Marshall Wilderness where the mountains meet the plains along the Rocky Mountain Front, with towering 2000 ft. cliffs.   The South Fork of the Flathead, and the Spotted Bear Country along the shores of Hungry Horse Reservoir.   I had remembrances of such places as The East Fork of the Salmon River, with all its tributaries, The Yellow Jacket Country around Cobalt, Id. and so many more that would take a book just to list their names.  I thought how lucky I was to have been able to travel to such places that most will only dream about.  Not only travel to, but live within their boundaries for an extended period of time.

As I stood in the places where these memories came back to me, I wondered
why I came to be this lucky person.  I think that it is because I have always
had this wanderlust that seeks new places, new experiences, and no matter
how much I try to suppress this wanderlust, it always rises to the surface.
I have been blessed with having a wife that is of the same mindset.  So what does all of that make me.  Nothing more than what a person would see. A few years back they would see a person in an old truck, wearing old Jeans, a weathered hat, and faded shirts, with old wore out boots.   But that person would be riding an outstanding horse of some mixed breed that had the eyes of a traveler.  Over the years there was a long line of those horses that I remember fondly.  Like I said it was a day of reflecting.

Today I am sitting at home looking at the prospect of Christmas on the
Prairie. I am somewhat lacking in the Christmas Spirit, but I can feel it coming on.  I think of all my Sons and Daughters, all of the Grandkids, and
in the not so distant future, the Great Grandkids that will come about.  I
wonder what their lives will be like, and if the freedoms we enjoy will still be available to them.  Certainly I have seen, and lived, days and times that will seem like tales of the Old West to young people in the year 2025.  Days of old rattling trucks, no Boundaries, few Regulations, the smell of Gunsmoke, Cheap Gas, Trails without end, Horses with Fire, and real Cowboy A Fork Saddles that were almost wore out.  Days when there were quite a few young men like myself, in some backcountry camp, with a campfire for
warmth, a cup of boiling Coffee in hand, working for little more than the
experience. I remember well being welcomed by old friends into many remote
camps such as that. I can only hope that all will have a wealth of good
memories that far outweigh the bad, that they have pride in their Heritage,
and that their lives are happy.

As for myself in the coming year,  I will still continue down the trail of
the Cowboy Poet, Storyteller, Songwriter, and I am looking forward to the
challenge of working with the Western Music Association as President of the
Northwest Chapter of the WMA, and my newest position as an elected Member of the Board of Directors of the WMA.

To be entrusted with this position by the Greatest Western Writers and
Musicians of our time is not something to be taken lightly. It is an honor
that weighs heavily, and a responsibility that I take seriously.  So in the
coming year, with the Lord willing, I will travel new trails, see new
country, make more good friends, listen to the sounds of voices and
instruments in far away places, and in general, remain in the clutches of

Very shortly the Sounds and Joys of the Christmas Spirit will be ringing
from every quarter, and inevitably we will join in that Spirit, and smile and sing, at seeing our loved ones with faces aglow.   Many will have all that our Society can provide---expensive presents, an abundance of food---but deep inside I will envy the cowboy in some remote cabin, with only a sagebrush decorated with paper, a warm fire in the stove, and a Dutch Oven with an Elk Roast with potatoes and carrots, just waiting to be enjoyed.  As I reflect on all of this it becomes very clear that there are many things that money cannot buy.  True Friendship is the greatest of all.

May your homes be warm and happy,  with Family gathered 'round, and may all the Blessings of our Lord be granted, and Christmas peace abound.

                                                          Friends Always,

                                                          Charlie and Kathy Camden

Read more installments of Charlie Camden's Just Beyond the Ridge here.

Happy holidays folks!


Letter to Santa

From Cowboys and Cowgirls,

Now That Roy And Gene Have Left The Range
Please Find Them In Your Book.
We'd Like To Send A Christmas Thanks
But Don't Know Where To Look.

And If By Chance You Spot Them,
When You Find Out Where They Roam
Tell them Thanks From All of us
From Here To San Antone

Tell them Thanks For All Those Picture Shows
And all those cowboy Songs.
We were Little Buckaroo's Back Then
But You Taught Us Right From Wrong.

We Learned To Say Please An Thank You,
And Say It With A Smile.
We Learned To Help Those That Need It Most
And Ride That Extra Mile.

You Made Us Proud To Be A Cowboy
When You Stood Up To The Test.
Thanks For All Those Happy Trails,
When You Rode Out In The West.

Letter From Santa

Roy And Gene Are Riding High Range;
It's Just Around The Bend.
They're Helping out at Christmas here
There Is So Much To Send.

Roy Is Tending Reindeer
And Put'n Um All To Bed.
Gene Is  Wrapping Christmas Toys
And Shining Up The Sled.

Trigger And Champion Are In The Ol Corral
There Just Raring There To Go.
They Can't Wait To Hit The Trail
To Play In All That Snow.

Now Ol Santa's Never Missed A Christmas,
Even On The Range Above.
I'll Tell Them Thanks From all The Buckaroos
And I'll Give Them Both A Hug.

2000 R. L. Brinegar


Read more of Ron Brinegar's poetry here.

He is:

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of 


Happy holidays folks!

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