A Christmas to Remember
It was chilly in the bunkhouse, but the cribbage game was hot…
Ol’ Cookie was in the kitchen stirrin’ somethin’ in a pot,
Follered by the beady eye of a packrat on the beam;
Now Duff an’ Stub was partners, Tom an’ Doc the challenge team,
A rivalry of long-standing – best man’d be hard to pick.
Earl sat on the foot of his bunk, jest ‘a whittlin’ on a stick…
Jesse’s finger follered words laboriously down a line,
On a greasy page of the Will James book he thought was so fine.
Stretched out upon his soogans with his tongue stuck out in thought,
The sight of him touched Cookie’s heart, an’ he wished now he had bought
That pair of spurs in Murphy’s store when last they’d rode to town…
The lad was young… should have some gifts… Cook’s forehead creased in frown.
He tidied up his domicile, polished the lamp chimney bright
‘Till one by one they stretched an’ yawned an’ turned in for the night.
Wasn’t long ’till the boy was snorin’, ’bout like a spotted hog,
Then Cookie stealthily made the rounds, some memories to jog.
He beckoned ’em out to the kitchen, an’ some’a them was mad;
But Cookie soothed their feathers an’ said, “It’s about the lad.
“Y’know, tomorra’s Christmas, an’ I think it’d be a crime
If he doesn’t have some presents ‘cuz we never spent a dime,
Nor turned a hand to make somethin’ to fill his heart with joy.
What can we do? Let’s make a plan… because, he is our boy…
His Ma is dead, his Pa run off, he works hard ever’ day;
A holiday with us old codgers can make a kid go grey!”
Their minds a’stir they crept back to bed, but plans kept all awake…
Cookie decided he had the stuff to bake a chawklit cake;
Duff dug around in his warbag ’till he fumbled out a book;
Tom remembered the pair ‘a spurs hung high up on a hook
Above the rafters out in the barn, unused since old Bart died.
Stub figgered he could give the kid that hackamore he’d tied,
‘An maybe if he’d do that Earl would part with his new reins…
Doc thought to gift his too-tight-boots would save his feet some pains.
With Jesse snorin’ in his bunk they rode early for a pine,
Tied all the presents on it, plus anything to add shine;
Each shaved an’ fetched a clean shirt, so’s to brighten up the scene.
Some boughs with cones an’ berries gave the table a touch of green
When Cookie served up the hearty stew, an’ toddies made with gin.
Young Jesse’s eyes was dancin’, his face was wreathed in a grin…
He said, “Fellers, ya’ took me by surprise… an’ I’ve no gifts to bring…
‘Cept somethin’ my momma taught me, a Christmas song to sing.”
An so he stood an’ filled the place with a joy that set things right
As with a pleasing voice he sang four verses of Silent Night.
Thus friends so dear shared Christmas cheer, and their holiday, with love…
An’ each was sure he felt a stir of blessing, from above…
©rhonda sedgwick stearns 12-15-08