We Didn't Have Much, Then, for Christmas
We didn't have much, then, for Christmas. But what we had mostly seemed like enough.
There was an old wooden bucket we kept in the attic that held all the baubles and stuff.
And once those glass balls were hung on the tree that bucket was just about right
For nuts. The old man would sit by the hearth crackin' pecans and walnuts at night.
And sometimes he'd take out his whetstone, and hone the edge on his knife.
Then he'd carve, and tell stories, if he got the mood, bout the days and the years of his life.
He'd make whistles and dogs for my brothers, flippers and soldiers and boats,
But those winged wooden angels he'd carve for the tree were the ornaments I loved the most.
Once he made me a box with a small wooden hinge that he'd carved in the shape of a leaf.
And he'd lined it inside with burlap. Rolled edges, glued underneath.
He could whittle a chain of flexible links from a stud or a scrap two by four,
And the shavings would fall in a neat little heap 'twixt his feet, and pile on the floor.
The planes of his face, in the firelight, were like leather. Shiny, and hard.
And the walnut patina etched into his skin seemed drawn from the wood that he carved.
The gifts that he gave us were small ones, pocketknife-hewn out of wood.
We hadn't much money, but we didn't care. We were happy, and livin' was good.
The old man's been gone now nearly three years, though I think of him now and then.
Like on long winter nights like this one, with Christmas upon us again.
These days I've more work than I've time for, tho' the pressures are all self-imposed,
I've got parties to plan for, presents to buy, toys and CD's, new clothes.
My own kids have written long wish lists. Their expectations are clearly too high.
The TV set bleats with false Christmas cheer that enough of the green stuff will buy.
And tonight as I sit wrapping presents that mostly came from the store,
It occurs to me now we're not nearly so rich as back when we didn't know we were poor.
© 2003, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Read more of Jo Lynne Kirkwood's poetry here.
The Pilfered Slice
I'd done left it on the counter,
Before I'd gone to throw some hay.
Never thinking that some larceny,
Would be practiced here today.
I see the season says it's Christmas,
The time of year to not find fault.
But when it comes to treasured tastes,
Warm Pecan Pie should be in a vault.
Now I know there's lots of suspects,
From the party gathered here.
All those smiling, laughing cowpokes,
Chock full of Holiday good cheer.
But I left it nonetheless,
Expecting it would be alright.
There's after all a Cowboy Code,
And stealing pie just isn't right.
So I waded to the barn,
Through powdered snowdrifts four feet high,
The horses bellies won't stay full,
Although I've asked them all to try.
I thought of pie while tossing Brome,
And while I filled cold water tanks.
Thought while shoveling "processed hay",
A job with little to zero thanks.
Pecans they danced across my vision,
While I checked hooves and picked them clean.
I was looking forward to the taste,
As horses munched Alfalfa green.
You know, my mouth was fairly waterin',
On my return trek through the snow.
I could almost smell the warm pie,
From the fenceline lit for show.
But when I came back from the barn,
Where I'd done sprained my right hand thumb.
Through my tears of pain a'poolin',
I glimpsed around your mouth a crumb.
I don't think that'd be unusual,
If your hands had held a plate.
But since I saw your palms were empty,
I reckon that done sealed your fate.
If this had been the Old West,
I'd sure have called you out right then.
For a duel with holstered weapons,
That's just how it might have been.
Instead I set off towards the kitchen,
'Cuz that's where all the sweets were kept.
When I saw the Pecan Pie was gone,
I could swear I nearly wept.
My head then peeked around the doorway,
Just to verify the sin.
Sure enough I spied more Pecan crumbs,
Clinging tightly to your chin.
But then we sang some Christmas Carols,
And I read aloud of baby Jesus.
How the Savior came to earth,
And how through eyes of love He sees us.
So I put away my hurt,
Thought I'd forgive and not hold strife.
Towards the rustler of my pilfered slice...
My darlin' sweet and hungry wife.
© 2003, Lincoln Rogers
Read more of Lincoln Rogers' poetry here.
Christmas Gift -- A Sack of Dreams
Hilda didn't need no extra paddin'
To play ole' Santy Clause's part.
She also had 'nough Christmas Spirit
In every corner of her heart.
She slipped into her favorite unders
The red ones, without no darnin'.
She buttoned up, checked the flaps,
It was gettin' closer to the marnin'.
She giggled silently to herself
As she imagined all their faces
When they woke and found a gift
Put in each one of their places.
The trail hands oft' remarked as how
As kids ole' Santy come
And left an orange, trinket, toy
And some of the new fan-dangled gum.
They was beginnin' to lose that Christmas Spirit
As age and years would go.
Hilda saw how eyes would twinkle
As they talked of those days so.
Fer weeks she quizzed each cowboy
'Bout what they remembered best
'Bouth their Christmas as a kid
Before bein' a cowboy way out West.
They told of candles on the trees
Of stockin's filled with toys
Made with care by lovin' hands
From Santa, to them boys!
She knew each hand and what he missed
As Christmas come each year.
She was bent on fillin' those dreams
For the meanin' of Christmas time was clear.
She donned her hat, climbed in her boots,
Tied the horse bells 'round her waist.
Her long-johns, red, made quite a sight
As she left her bunk in haste.
The sack of dreams tossed 'cross her back;
She bounced on past the corral.
What she carried didn't cost her much
But, she hoped it would boost morale.
The cowboys heard them bells a' comin'!
The bunk house door flung wide!
They couldn't believe what they was seein'.
But they asked ole' Santy inside!
"Ho, Ho, Ho and Merry Christmas,"
Santy sang to one and all.
"Have you cowboys been good little boys?"
Was this rounded Santy's call.
"Charlie here's some chaw fer you,
Red Dawg, yer favorite kind!
Slim Jim, you wanted peppermint stix,
And Tubby in your pack, Christmas candles you will find.
"Henry, Harley, the twins from Virginnie!
Here's a letter from yer ma!
Edgar Potts, in my bag for you
Some charcoal, so's you can draw."
So, Santy went from hand to hand
And gave all that was in the sack.
The pouch was empty, Santy turned
And hustled back over to her shack.
She heard the laughter, felt the joy
These gifts brought to this night.
Then a commotion came to her door
And twenty men clamored into the light.
"Hilda, did you see old Santy Clause?!
He found us ALL this year!
He brought us all we'd been hopin' for!"
The twins' eyes each held a tear!
They didn't even know that it was her
Decked out in long-johns, red!
'Cause the Christmas Spirit now filled THEIR hearts!
"Yeh, I saw him," Hilda said.
"What did Sandy bring you
Just what did YOU receive?"
"Oh, he granted all the prayers I had!
He made sure you all still believed
"In Christmas time; what it holds
And that dreams do still come true.
The best darn gift that I received
Was seein' that Christmas Spirit come back to you!"
Them cowboys will all remember
The Christmas spirit brought that night
By a special rounded Santy's elf
Standing six foot four in height.
© 1998, Brenda "Sam" DeLeeuw
reprinted with permission from Hilda and Her Friends
Read more of Sam DeLeeuw's poetry here.
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