A Charlie Creek Christmas
It was Christmas in the badlands
An' the moon was shinin' bright—
So I figgered dear ol' Santa
Wouldn't need no exter light
When he come across the prairie
An' down the coulees deep—
To drop me off my presents
While I was sound asleep—
—That's what I get for figgerin'—
Once again I'se proven wrong
'Cause I shoulda fixed that yard light
in the middle of my lawn.
Now—I knew the thing was history—
Heck, it burnt out in the spring
When I wacked it up a good one
With my alfalfa balin' thing.
Still—it come as quite a shock
That night on Christmas Eve—
When a clatter did arise
An' what my blood shots did perceive—
Eight tiny little reindeers
Stumblin' 'round my yard
With about a million presents—
Some still bouncin' mighty hard.
And layin' in the middle,
With his suit so big an' red,
Was none other than his elfness
Slowly shakin' his old head.
Oh my lord!—I started thinkin'
Ain't this the Cat's Meow—
I'd best be gettin' movin'
And I'd best be movin' now!
'Cause they'd smacked into that light pole
An' it wasn't fer no joke—
Looked like my chance fer presents
Had all gone up in smoke.
I'm halfway apoplectic
An' sorry as can be
As I run like all the dickens
To help him to his feet.
I gets him kinda dusted—
Then we both eyeball the scene
Lookin' pert near like a war zone,
If yer knowin' what I mean.
Then'r peepers lit upon it—
What used ta be his sleigh—
An' there weren't no use denyin'
It had seen its better days.
I'm feelin' real depressed
—Then I seen him drop his head—
I knew what he was thinkin'
So I quiklike thought—an' said—
"Yer lookin' kinda worried
But I tell ya what we'll do—
A bit a wire an' some nails
She'll be flyin' good as new.
We can take a couple fence posts
An' bend 'em at the end
Then ya got yerself some runners
To get up an' off again.
We'll grab 'r selves some planks
An' nail 'em right around
What's left a that ol' chassis—
Heck—She'll float right off the ground!"
Well—he paused an' thought a bit—
Perked up—an' said "Yer right!"
"But we'd best be gettin' hoppin'
I got a fairly busy night!"
So faster than a twinklin'
I gets the parts we need—
An' before ya even knowed it
We undone the dirty deed.
Then we gathers in the reindeer
Hitch 'em to the sleigh
An' round up all the presents
Til' they're packed and stashed away.
An' as he climbed aboard
He turned—Just like a shot—
Stopped an' handed me some presents
An' said—"I near forgot!"
I heard him when he hollered
As he flew on outa sight—
"Merry Christmas you old codger—
Next year turn on the light!"
© 1997, DW Groethe, from A Charlie Creek Christmas & Other Wint'ry Tales of the West
The little book, A Charlie Creek Christmas & Other Wint'ry Tales of the West, is a work of art in words and illustration, with hand-lettered poems and black and white and hand-colored illustrations by Scott Nelson and D. W. Groethe
$10 postpaid from:
D. W. Groethe
PO Box 144
Bainville, MT 59212
Read more poetry by DW Groethe here.
It's 15 below on the prairie
the wind chill's down near 42
and I'm watchin' a Texas blue norther blow in
and I'm not sure what I'm gonna do.
'Cause the tanks are froze pretty near solid
and the handle broke off my best ax
and the feed's gettin' wet from a hole in the roof
where it's leakin' all over the sacks
And I'm feedin' more hay than I planned on
'cause the snow covered up all the grass
the tractor's broke down and the pickup won't start
and it's cold as a well digger's...shovel
It's the 24th day of December
and the sagebrush is covered with ice
and I think that a hot cup of coffee
or a good shot of rye would be nice
'Cause my feet are so cold I can't feel 'em
and my fingers are purty near froze
and there's icicles hung off my moustache
from the drip drippin' off of my nose
I was hopin' I'd get to quit early
and be back at the house Christmas Eve
but these baldies are cryin' and hungry
and there's no one to feed if I leave
And there's one little motley-faced heifer
who somehow got in with the bull
and she's just too little to leave by herself
'cause the calf's gonna have to be pulled
And there's one other thing I might mention
a fact that is painfully clear
I'm so broke that I can't pay attention
so I guess I'll spend Christmas out here
But it's pretty out here on the prairie
where the stars light the cold winter sky
and though I can't remember when things were much worse
I guess I'm still a right lucky guy
'Cause I've got a good woman who'll love me
no matter what time I come home
and my young 'un is happy and healthy
though I wish he weren't quite near so grown
And I've got that new 3-year-old filly
who's better than I even dreamed
and my old spotted gelding as good as they come
so things ain't all as bad as they seem
I've got no cause for being ungrateful
and to gripe and complain isn't good
'cause there's people all over this country
who'd trade places with me if they could
So I know that I'll have a good Christmas
in spite of my problems somehow
I'll just watch as this Texas blue norther blows in
and sing "O Holy Night" to the cows.
© 1996, J. W. Beeson
This poem appeared in Western Horseman in December, 1996
Read more of Honored Guest J. W. Beeson's poetry here.
From Charlie Russell's 1914 Christmas card:
Best wishes for your Christmas
Is all you get from me,
'Cause I aint no Santa Claus--
Don't own no Christmas tree.
But if wishes was health and money,
I'd fill your buck-skin poke,
Your doctor would go hungry
An' you never would be broke.
thanks to Trey Allen for bringin' these words to our attention, courtesy of the Montana Historical Society
Merry Christmas to all!
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