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The Rover's Toast

You that in the trail believes;
Let the drinks go 'round again;
No true rover ever grieves.
While the world, in faith and folly,
Laughs, tonight, among the holly
Give one glass, that's deep and jolly,
To our old time Christmas Eves.

You all know the times I mean,
'Fore we learnt that life is fight;
When all men were square and clean
And all wimmen saints in white;
When our trails were short and level
And our Christmas revel
No fiesta of the devil
Like we're havin' here tonight.

Drink to the longest long ago,
To the baby heart's desire,
When we hung the stockin' low
And hope Santy wouldn't tire;
When we dreamed his bells were ringin'
While our sleepy arms were clingin'
To the woman that was singin'
As she rocked us by the fire.

Drink to bigger prouder times,
With the laughin' and their show
Sleighs and churches minglin' chimes
And the lights across to snow;
To the stars that were the clearest;
To the friends that were nearest;
To the girls, the first and dearest,
Underneath the mistletoe.

Through the year, old things are dead
And our eyes are always drawn
Toward the hopes that flare ahead,
On the edge of every dawn;
But the night-wind in December
Wails: "Remember!" and "Remember!"
Till a campfire's last red ember
Paints a thousand things that's gone.

Clink your glasses, trailers dear,
You the rovin' imp deceives,
Down the four winds drifted here
Like a whirl of fallen leaves;
Here's to loves that bind us,
Sweet old dreams that used to blind us,
Home, the heaven that's behind us,
And the old time Christmas Eves.
Hug the bar, you homeless men.

Badger Clark, 1907


Historian and musician Greg Scott, author of Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark, discovered this uncollected Christmas poem by Badger Clark. It is included in Greg Scott's book. Greg told us, "Badger himself called this poem 'gloomy Christmas verse,' but I expect it was because he'd had such unexpected success the year before with his 'Christmas' poem 'A Cowboy's Prayer' (it appeared  in the December issue of Pacific Monthly, 1906). He was clearly homesick and nostalgic. The Rover's Toast was published in August, 1907 in Pacific Monthly."

Read more about Badger Clark and Greg Scott's book here.


Find more poetry and information about Badger Clark in an additional feature here.



The Cowboys' Christmas Ball 
To the Ranchmen of Texas

'Way out in Western Texas, where the Clear Fork's waters flow,
Where the cattle are "a-browzin'," an' the Spanish ponies grow;
Where the Northers "come a-whistlin'" from beyond the Neutral Strip;
And the prairie dogs are sneezin', as if they had "The Grip";
Where the cayotes come a-howlin' 'round the ranches after dark,
And the mocking-birds are singin' to the lovely "medder lark";
Where the 'possum and the badger, and rattlesnakes abound,
And the monstrous stars are winkin' o'er a wilderness profound;
Where lonesome, tawny prairies melt into airy streams,
While the Double Mountains slumber, in heavenly kinds of dreams;
Where the antelope is grazin' and the lonely plovers call—
It was there that I attended "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The town was Anson City, old Jones's county seat,
Where they raised Polled Angus cattle, and waving whiskered wheat;
Where the air is soft and "bammy," an' dry an' full of health,
And the prairies is explodin' with agricultural wealth;
Where they print the Texas Western, that Hec. McCann supplies
With news and yarns and stories, uv most amazin' size;
Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger," on knowin' tenderfeet,
And Democracy's triumphant, and might hard to beat;
Where lives that good old hunter, John Milsap, from Lamar,
Who "used to be the Sheriff, back East, in Paris sah!"
'T was there, I say, at Anson with the lovely "widder Wall,"
That I went to that reception, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The boys had left the ranches and come to town in piles;
The ladies—"kinder scatterin'"— had gathered in for miles.
And yet the place was crowded, as I remember well,
'T was got for the occasion, at "The Morning Star Hotel."
The music was a fiddle an' a lively tambourine,
And a "viol came imported," by the stage from Abilene.
The room was togged out gorgeous-with mistletoe and shawls,
And candles flickered frescoes, around the airy walls.
The "wimmin folks" looked lovely—the boys looked kinder treed,
Till their leader commenced yellin': "Whoa! fellers, let's stampede,"
And the music started sighin', an' awailin' through the hall
As a kind of introduction to "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The leader was a feller that came from Swenson's ranch,
They called him "Windy Billy," from "little Deadman's Branch."
His rig was "kinder keerless," big spurs and high-heeled boots;
He had the reputation that comes when "fellers shoots."
His voice was like a bugle upon the mountain's height;
His feet were animated an' a mighty, movin' sight,
When he commenced to holler, "Neow, fellers stake your pen!
"Lock horns ter all them heifers, an' russle 'em like men.
"Saloot yer lovely critters; neow swing an' let 'em go,
"Climb the grape vine 'round 'em—all hands do-ce-do!
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up- Jest skip her waterfall,"
Huh!  hit wuz gettin' happy, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful neat,
That old bass viol's music just got there with both feet!
That wailin', frisky fiddle, I never shall forget;
And Windy kept a-singin'-I think I hear him yet—
"Oh Xes, chase yer squirrels, an' cut 'em to one side;
"Spur Treadwell to the centre, with Cross P Charley's bride;
"Doc. Hollis down the middle, an' twine the ladies' chain;
"Varn Andrews pen the fillies in big T Diamond's train.
"All pull yer freight together, neow swallow fork an' change;
"'Big Boston,' lead the trail herd, through little Pitchfork's range.
"Purr 'round yer gentle pussies, now rope 'em! Balance all!"
Huh!  hit wuz gettin' active—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The dust riz fast an' furious; we all jes' galloped 'round,
Till the scenery got so giddy that T Bar Dick was downed.
We buckled to our partners, an' told 'em to hold on,
Then shook our hoofs like lightning, until the early dawn.
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions, or germans. No sire 'ee!
That whirl at Anson City just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's, of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-down, backed up by Windy Bill.
McAllister ain't nowhar: when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness, and so I sorter know—
Oh, Bill, I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall,
That lively gaited sworray—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

Larry Chittenden, 1890 


Read more of Larry Chittenden's poetry here.



Here's to the Cowboys

Here's to the cowboys I've known in my lifetime
all the tough hands that lived on the fringe
they weren't much to look at, and damn hard to open
'cause most were just hung with one hinge

I know you're thinking, "They're too hard to handle."
but pardner that's where you're all wrong
they'll come to "getcha" come Hell or high water
and you're damn glad they happened along

When the going got tough, they loved the excitement
though they never knew what was in store
they'd make some joke, "Put your oars in the water
and by God don't be rowing for shore."

A cowboy can stand a whole lot more than most
lump jaws, hoof rot, and three titters
but when it comes time, to reel in your line
the thing they can't stand are the quitters

So here's to the cowboys I've known in my lifetime
that could handle a horse, rope or steer
I'd drink to your health if you had any left—
"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

© 2006, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Pat Richardson's poetry here.



Stopping by Woods

Roping pretty is pretty darn rough
When spruce is what you're chasing-
Even swinging a loop is tough enough
When through snowy woods you're racing.

You cut and dodge, turn and duck,
Tangle your coils and miss your throw;
Swear at that evergreen, curse your luck,
Reel out a fresh loop, spur and go. 
You keep after them trees, filled with hope,
Then realize your first catch might be your last
When you jerk your slack to dally your rope, 
And remember you're tied-off, hard-and-fast.
But after the wreck you patch things up
With rawhide, pine gum, and wire;
Take up the reins, swing into the stirrup,
And drag that sapling you caught to the fire.

© 2006, Rod Miller
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem was inspired by a 2006 Christmas Art Spur drawing by Jo Lynne Kirkwood.

Read more of Rod Miller's poetry here.



Seein' Is Believin'

Through the pale and watery light from a cold, cold moon,
In a sad, blue liquored haze I rode my trail immune,

Where gnarled misty fingers gripped the deep cold canyon trails
And high up on white ridges where December wind prevails.

A bottle in my pocket and an empty-bellied horse steered me home on Christmas Eve.
Another lone and lonesome ride for a bitter hardluck soul who never did believe.

At first I heard a skyward sound that made me give my head a shake...
The mist blew in a dizzy swirl and the earth began to shake.

I cursed my own sad, sinful ways, expectin' my demise,
My horse began to quiver, snort, and roll his white-walled eyes.

A thousand bells in harmony sent music down the mountain side.
The oddest rig I ever saw split the dark at a fast and graceful glide.

I saw a team of most enormous deer harnessed to a flying sleigh
And upon the seat a red-robed man with a bushy beard of silvered gray.

He rumbled hearty laughter, cracked his whip and circled high...
I sat my tremblin' horse and watched them vanish in the sky.

It happened oh so quick and scared me sober as a Saint,
But I'll tell ya straight and true, a non-believer now, I ain't.

© 2004, Janice Gilbertson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


"Seein' Santa" 
by Charles M. Russell, 1910
C. M. Russell Museum
Great Falls, Montana

This poem was part of a 2004 Christmas Art Spur


Read more of Janice Gilbertson's poetry here.



Neath A Christmas Eve Sky

There's a halo  that's circlin'
'round a moon shinin' bright,
adding wonder and glory
to the heavens tonight.

And it seems to be sayin'
to this cowboy at least,
it was on such an evenin'
came the young Prince Of Peace.

And I know without doubtin'
as the bunkhouse draws nigh,
that it's Christmas I'm feelin'
neath a Christmas Eve sky.

There's a wind slightly blowin'
through the needles of pine,
and the shadows are loomin'
where the moonbeams now shine.

And the soft sound of singing
come a-driftin' to me
as the hands are now gatherin'
'round a small  lighted tree.

And it brings me a smile, Lord,
and a tear to my eye,
as I'm headin' home fin'lly
neath a Christmas Eve sky.

© 2007, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Eve Thornton, who has maintained Rod's cowboy poetry board where all are welcome to post poetry, invites all to "stop by the 'Ol' Rockin' R' on December 22, 2008 to drop off a poem or thoughts in remembrance of Rod."

The Live! With Jim Thompson show will honor Rod Nichols on the December 22, 2008 show. Rod, who died December 22, 2007, was a regular contributor to the show. The show will include Rod Nichols' Christmas poetry. Award-winning broadcaster Jim Thompson's radio program, Live! with Jim Thompson, airs every weekday at 1:00 PM (MT) on over 50 radio stations and live on the web. Read more in our feature here.


See our page of tributes to Rod here, and find his pages of poetry here at the BAR-D.


The Spirit of Christmas

We were two kids in a cow camp,
Christmas drawing near.
Not much food, no money to spend,
The way ahead was drear.

We had one old hen and shared the egg,
She laid once in a while.
An important decision we had to make,
Now it makes me smile.

Should we keep feeding that old hen?
She was a lazy beast.
Or forget the sentiment and chop off her head?
For our Christmas feast?

Old Tom was a neighbor,
Up the creek a' way.
We could invite him to our feast,
And brighten his Christmas day.

He had given us some apples,
From which could be made a pie.
With that and the chicken all cooked up,
The livin' would be high.

Tom had no one else to care for him,
And was happy to share the meal.
He had helped us out several times,
Our friendship for him was real.

The plates were tin, forks didn't match.
But somehow we didn't care,
For we were warm and we were dry,
And the spirit of Christmas was there.

© Georgie Sicking, from her book, Just More Thinking 
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Georgie told us this is poem from her own experiences when she was 17 and she and her 15 year old brother were on their own.  She said it was the first time she had ever cooked a holiday meal.  "Tom" was the only adult they knew and they often counted on him for guidance. For example, when a pig broke its back falling from a bridge, they went to Tom to learn how to butcher it. They couldn't afford to waste a thing.

Read more poetry by Georgie Sicking here.



A Campfire Christmas Eve

Oh, the lure of the West is callin’!
          And the haunting mem'ries of yore
                    of mesas where cattle are bawlin’
                               are stronger than ever before

I ain't made to be in this city!
          With skylines of mortar and brick
                    and cold streets with nary a pity
                              fer a guy who's country-homesick

How I yearn fer wide open spaces!
          Where radiant stars of the night
                     Kiss the canyon’s old weathered faces
                               Near a hemlock campfire’s light

Just an old-fashioned cowboy Christmas!
          Where this cowpoke could ponder and pray
                    With naught but the Lord as my witness
                             In honor of this hallowed day

I would ride to the top of a canyon!
          Just to thank Him afore I leave
                    fer being a cowboy’s companion
                               at my campfire Christmas Eve

© 2007, Diane Tribitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Art copyright Buckshot Dot, used with her mighty kind permission 
Illustration by Dee Strickland Johnson 
("Buckshot Dot")

This poem was a Christmas Art Spur submission in 2007.


Read more poetry by Diane Tribitt here.



Jim Quarternight's Gift

Ride on, ride on, Jim Quarternight, another lonely ride.
Stars shine bright in the cloudless night, and Time is a pleasant blur.
It's Christmas Eve, and family and feast await at the fireside
To crown the year with love and cheer and the welcome warmth of her.

Age-won wisdom whispers dark and melancholy songs
Of a time when Fortune's promise lured your willing heart astray,
And the romance of the ranges led you knowingly along
As a temptress or mirage that flirts, then gently fades away.

Does your Stetson cover memories of a gay and reckless youth,
Or simply serve to shelter silver hair from snow and cold?
Does the wistful want and longing in your eyes bespeak the truth
Of a quiet resignation at the deal the dice have rolled?

Lord knows you've seen the elephant; the Prodigal's your kin,
Though a fatted calf won't mark the mortal ending of your ride.
But Fate can be capricious, and She throws a whimsic spin,
Why, picture old Jim Quarternight with Hannah by his side!

Hers a world of joy and love, who knows not care nor worry;
His the weight of fifty years, but tall he rides tonight.
And his pulse begins to quicken, and his horse's hoofbeats hurry
'Til he reins up at the homestead in the lantern's welcome light.

A bait of grain and Christmas apple saved for Dancy's feast,
A blanket and a sheltered stall to pass the night in style.
Solemnly Jim tips his hat toward the starlit East,
Then steps into the cabin, wreathed in finest Christmas smile.

A hearty cheer and handshake for his younger brother Paul,
While laughter, hugs and kisses come as gifts from Sue to Jim.
But gala airs can't hide the knowing glances in the hall,
Or the sheer delight that fills his soul when she runs out to him.

So young, so young, so soon they learn to snare an old man's heart,
With innocence and faith and trust that swell a man inside.
And he knows it's not forever, and he knows they'll someday part,
But soft she nestles in his arms, and glad he made the ride.

And I've often heard her speak of him with tender tones and tears,
How he smelled of burnished leather, of campfire smoke and sage;
With no regret for beauty lost beyond the veil of years,
Of long-loved scents of plug tobacco, homemade soap and age.

Gifts are given, gifts received, but none so rare as this.
Jim Quarternight holds Hannah tight, and memories weave and wend
To that Christmas Eve when fear and anguish stole away the bliss,
And his brother's wife screamed out and prayed the fearsome pain might end.

A freighting trip took Paul away to pay the banker's due,
His hopes and dreams entrusted to a brother's faithful care.
But Sue broke early, body wracked by spasms through and through,
And placed her life in calloused hands and desperate, whispered prayers.

A midwife's ministrations couldn't be more true nor kind.
"Why, it's just like pullin' calves," said Jim, and blushed upon the saying.
With her precious maiden's modesty relieved and thus defined,
She laughed at his embarrassment, but never ceased her praying.

And they named the baby Hannah, who was given gifts by God
And taught that gifts received may be returned.
They give the most that have the least and know not Wealth's facade;
This lesson shall redeem them yet, if nothing else they've learned.

For one there was who gave His all, though He had naught to give
But His life to save us from our earthly sin.
And Hannah, darlin' Hannah, in the four short years she'd lived
Redeemed a lonely cowboy's soul and found the love within.

Jim's anxious fingers fumbled through his tattered saddlebags,
Past shirt and soap and sundries cast aside to claim the prize.
A silken wild rag worn behind a thousand dusty drags
Held the treasure he had made for her -- a doll with emerald eyes.

I've heard it told so often I believe that I was there;
How he cut up Cookie's apron made from flour sacks he'd saved.
How Dancy's sorrel mane was gleaned for softest, shining hair,
And why he swapped his six-gun to an old Shoshone brave

For a soft and supple buckskin cured with all the ancient skills,
To fashion dress and moccasins with fringe and beads of blue.
How his patient fingers stitched and stuffed with cotton from his quilts,
And how she gazed in wonder at those eyes of emerald hue.

Those eyes, those eyes; swift recognition flashed across Paul's face,
Recalling how a ring adorned the finger of his mother,
Who lived with quiet dignity and died in solemn grace.
No greater love could Jim bequeath the daughter of his brother.

And in the reaches of the night Jim woke to reminisce
And ponder how he might have lived his life another way.
Memory's taste is bittersweet for chances known and missed,
But profit comes not from regret for chances thrown away.

His bed he'd spread beside the hearth and Hannah's downy pad
And smiled to see her clutch the doll with honest love and pride.
Too late he knew the loss of wife and child he'd never had.
"God bless you, girl," he whispered low, then turned his head and cried.

She told me how he spoke to her of life upon the range,
How he loved her true, but loved it, too, and time had come to part.
His salty tears as he held her near seemed not so very strange,
For nothing else but truest love can break a great, good heart.

Jim Quarternight was killed next spring at a round-up on the Red,
When a fool green kid tied hard and fast to the outlaw bull at dawn.
Death rode hard, but Jim rode harder; he took the horns instead.
Ropes sailed true and six-guns crashed too late—old Jim was gone.

She remembers him now in his boots and spurs and hat placed upon his breast;
So proud, so strong, so peaceful, and yet—how could the story be told otherwise?
As they lowered the lid on the old cowboy and sang to his final rest,
Clutched in his good right hand was her gift—the doll with the emerald eyes.

© 1991, Dennis Gaines
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Read more of Dennis Gaines' poetry here.


One Less Chair at the Table

There’ll be one less chair at the table
And one less gift ‘neath the tree.
There is one less saddle in the bunk house
But a gift of memories for me.

The first Christmas of memory
Was awesome and exciting of course,
All that I ask for was new yellow boots
And for sure, my own paint horse.

I had been a such good little girl
As good as a ranch kid could
I fed the chickens, gathered the eggs,
And fed the horses, just like I should.

But after boxes of dresses, Mary Jane shoes
And red ribbons for my hair,
There were no yellow boots under the tree
And I had looked almost everywhere!

Then my dad pointed way back
Almost outta my site,
One lone box could barely be seen
Could it be?  Well it just might!

I had to crawl under that tree.
I pushed the dresses and shoes aside.
It was tuff being my dad’s little kid
But I pulled the box out with pride.

I tore the ribbons from the box
And pulled the tissue away,
There inside a pair of yellow boots
What a wonderful Christmas day!

Those boots were a perfect fit.
And I wore them with pride,
And when I fell asleep that night,
They were there at my bedside.

So I’ll just leave that chair at the table,
I’ll hang a special ornament on the tree,
I will oil up that old saddle
And smile at my Christmas memory. 

© 2003, Linda Kirkpatrick 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Linda Kirkpatrick, photo by Jeri Dobrowski

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Read more of Linda Kirkpatrick's poetry here.


Wrappings & Bows

It's Christmas, with gifts exchanged,
and a family tradition that seemed so proper.
I can clearly recall Dad picking up bows
and Mom...gently folding wrapping paper.

Thoughts often take me back,
to those youthful days I'd known.
Sweet recollections of family gatherings,
with all us kids at home.

Special times it was, when gifts were given,
Mom and Dad would make it so.
And special still, the saving of paper wrappings
along with those ribbons and bows.

Can you picture a little homestead,
far from town, white with fallen snow?
At sun's setting, from a frosty window,
the warmth of a fireplace glow?

Within, a family poor to the world,
along with a hired hand,
Observing Christmas together,
in the high plains cattle land.

Over the years, life's pulled me away,
etching those memories deeper.
When Dad's callused hands picked up bows
and Mom's folded wrapping paper.

Before the gifts, Ebenezer's story was told,
and always a song and a poem.
Sitting close to the fire, huddled together,
with the excitement, as kids, we'd known.

A song sung of Baby Jesus,
newly borne on a silent night.
A poem about three Wise Men,
being guided by a bright star's light.

Family, friends, and as likely a stranger,
at a meal with all the fixin's.
In the corner, a pine branch along side gifts
concealed in traditional wrappings.

Though gifts were in short supply,
anticipation was abundant.
What we had, was what we had.
We's too poor to know no different.

Few gifts were bought, most were made,
all were shared with love.
There was thankfulness for what we had,
the blessings from up above.

Those were the days, a gift wasn't appraised,
at least, not in dollars and cents.
A simpler time, ya gave to give,
and giving was from the heart.

A piece of hard candy, perhaps an apple,
a peach or maybe a pear.
From horse hair, mane or tail,
a watch-bob woven with care.

A pack of seeds for spring time,
a penny ball of twine.
Sewing needles with a shiny thimble,
a hand written note or a rhyme.

A belt fashioned from an old harness.
For Sister, a hand sewn doll.
A charcoal drawn picture by a child,
to hang upon the wall.

And a jar of honey would be found,
on the porch, not under the tree.
We believed it from a thoughtful storekeeper,
who had a stand of bees.

A new red kerchief; for sure some socks,
maybe a pair of shoes.
An apron made new from an old petticoat.
Neat things...that would always be used.

It's memories best, recalling the days
of Christmas times at home,
Snuggled close to Mother folding wrappings
while Dad collected the bows.

Some bows stayed around, reused many times,
their history us kids would tell.
There was pride in having them last,
though the paper didn't weather so well.

Wrappings well worn, bows tattered and torn,
were welcome sights each season.
Not only during Christmas but anytime
gifts were exchanged or given.

Memories fade just like the bows,
bagging their tells to be told.
Especially my favorite, fray and faded,
brightened with memories of gold.

I can see the gift for my tenth birthday,
a ribbon bound some school supplies,
With the bow Grandma made,
the Christmas before she died.

A big blue bow came from a lady in town.
It came with cookies and leaves of tea.
For Brother, when he fell and broke his leg,
trying to get her cat from out of a tree.

The faded red one held a ring from Dad,
for Mom, years after their wedding.
And since that time, many more gifts,
has that bow made prettier the wrapping.
Uncle Jack said Mom cried as she held the ring
tied in the ribbon of Rose Bud Red.
Later, when it appeared, Mom held off tears
reminiscing her surprise from Dad.

The tiny white bow showed up when Billy was born
but he left us that first winter.
Yes, it was used, we called it "Billy's Bow",
reminding us, he's now with Heavenly Father.

The Church Elders brought the green one
attached to a 4-pound fruitcake.
The only et'able that ever come in....
that never did get ate.

We each had our favorites, thou they're worn,
new were not necessarily better.
Deeper the memory, the more precious the bow,
their past seem to make them prettier.

The folks are gone, have been for years,
but with angels, I know, they're watching,
And guide the hands that now pick up bows,
and fold the fragile wrappings.

Time has since blessed us, prosperity's ours.
Saving wrappings we do not need to do.
But seeing the bows, recalling the past,
fading memories get renewed.

So it continues, year after year,
for an accounting of our family happenings,
It would seem the family's history...
is wrapped up in the wrappings.

How blessed we were and how others would be,
if as families, all could come to know,
A mother saving wrappings,
and a dad that picks up the bows.

© 2002, Mike Dunn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Mike Dunn's poetry here.


A Crayon-Colored Santa

A red crayon-colored Santa,

And a rumpled paper dove

Memories of Christmas past,

made with paper, paste and love. 


Amid the lights and tinsel

That adorn our Christmas tree,

It's these simple family treasures

That mean the most to me


Sometimes in all the the clutter

we fail to see the gift of love.

A red crayon colored Santa,

And a rumpled paper dove!

© 2007, Mike Puhallo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Mike comments, "Bodie Dominguez put this poem to music and put it out on SoundClick last year. It did real well on the country and "seasonal" charts and even showed up on their pop charts."

You can listen to the song here.




Read more of Mike Puhallo's poetry here.



The Christmas Stocking

T'was the night before Christmas and all 'round the ranch,
     The boys were plotting tricks that would make parents blanch.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with cheer
     For that's where the trick was directed this year.
For the four youngest had thought up a trick for Lee,
     Just to see what a good sport the eldest would be.
They gathered frozen road apples from beneath barnyard snow
     And snuck them into Lee's sock - way down at the toe.
With the morning fire lit the road apples caught the thaws
     And Lee knew he had a gift NOT from old Santa Claus.
So he peeked in, then went on to other things without a mention,
     Which caused his four brothers much consternation.
They expected him to rant and rave and curse,
     For the trick to be ignored was the very worst.
So finally one of the brothers said, "Lee this is shocking,
    "But you haven't told us what you got in your stocking."
The words Lee replied for his brothers' ears
    Have lived in our family and echoed through the years,
For Lee replied carefully in his slow cowboy way,
     "Well, I had a hoss, but he got away."

© 2008, Carol Oxley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more about Carol Oxley here.


The Night Before Christmas Out West

T’was the night before Christmas,
When out on the range,
Not a creature was stirring,
Now isn’t that strange.

The cowboys were wrapped all snug in their racks,
With visions of saddles and some brand new tack.
The trail boss in his bed and the cook in his sack,
Had just settled down for a long winters nap.

When out in the corral there arose such a clatter,
Five cowhands rolled out of their bunks to see what was the matter.
Away to the windows they bounded right quick,
Hoping like heck it might be Saint Nick.

The moon glinted bright on the new-fallen white,
Giving a brightness to all that wasn’t quite right.
When what to their wondering eye’s should appear,
But a red chuck wagon sleigh all loaded with gear.

With an old tender so lively and quick,
We knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid then eagles his horses they came,
As he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

Now Dakota, now Daisy, now Peaches, and Vasha,
On Chico , on Charlie, on Buttermilk and Sasha!
To up near the porch to the top of the corral!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all.

In a twinkling we heard by the porch,
The sound of a team of horses and sleigh bells of course.
As I thought in my dreams and was turning around,
Through the bunkhouse door Saint Nickolas came with a bound.

He was all dressed in fur, from his head to his boots,
And his clothes were all dirty with mud and with goop.
A bundle of tack he had flung over his back,
And looked like a farrier just opening his sack.

His eyes how they sparkled! His grin how merry!
His tanned cheeks like a cowhand, his nose like a cherry!
From under his broad brimmed hat his hair seemed to flow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a cigar he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke circled round his head like a lasso shaped wreath.
He had a broad face and a big round belly,
That shook when he chuckled like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old drover,
And I laughed when I saw him, he’d won me over.
A wink of his eye and twist of his Stetson,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread from him.

He spoke not a word but went right to his work,
And hung saddles and bridles on each bunk, and turned with a jerk.
Giving us a nod his presents all spent,
Out the bunkhouse door he went.

He jumped to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a shot from a pistol.
But as I heard him exclaim before he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all of you Cowboys goodnight.”

© 2007, Townsend Twainhart
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more about Townsend Twainhart here.


Christmas on the Homestead

A ponderosa pine stood in an old bucket,
lookin' just as pretty as can be,
wearin' red and white garlands and angels of gold,
handmade by my sisters and me.

The smells, Christmas morn, of pancakes and bacon
sent us boundin' through the back bedroom door,
just a flurry of flannel and thick woolen socks
catchin' knots on the rough wooden floor.

The coal oil lamp, hangin' over the table,
shone circles 'round three beamin' faces
with visions of racin' those new Flyer sleds
on the hills and wide-open spaces.

After hours of draggin' those sleds up the hills,
we wanted somethin' different to do
and country kids know how to make their own fun
in creatin' a challenge or two.

Jack Frost, wearin' long johns out on the line,
was a stiff-legged, sorry lookin' sight.
We poked him with icicles torn from the roof
till we thought he was losin' the fight.

We petted the horses eatin' hay from the ground,
their muzzles all covered with snow,
then followed their tracks leadin' down to the creek
which snaked through the valley below.

A patch of thin ice kinda crackled and groaned
when we boot skated out to the middle,
just darin' each other to do it again
by edgin' a foot just a little.

Soon tiring of that, we played with the dogs,
throwin' snowballs high in the air.
We laughed at the sight of their snow-splattered heads
as they searched for those balls everywhere.

When the sunlight faded, we headed on home
to a meal of spuds and moose meat
and to top it all off there was Mom's butter tarts
for a special Christmastime treat.

Some carols rang out from the old radio
and then old-fashioned music came on.
Dad twirled us around to a Viennese waltz
until we all started to yawn.

Yes, I'll always remember the Christmas we had
on the homestead so long ago,
when happy little girls slept three to a bed
with their blond heads all in a row.

© 2002, Mag Mawhinney
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mag comments, "I wrote this poem about a true experience I had when I was nine years old."



Read more of Mag Mawhinney's poetry here.


In Time for Christmas

A cold Christmas Eve on a Nebraska farm, snow flurries in the air.
The boys and their dad were watchin' TV, but she could only stare
Through the kitchen window at the county road a quarter-mile away.
Watchin' for her oldest son and his wife, comin' home that day.

It had been two years since they'd left the farm to pursue a city life.
Two long years since she'd seen her boy, and his nineteen-year-old wife.
Now the kids lived six hundred miles away, far off in another state.
She looked at the clock and saw it was nine. They must be runnin' late.

There was a foot of snow on the ground, the roads were packed with ice.
The TV announced a traveler's advisory. She'd heard them say it twice.
She sent the youngest boys to bed, after each hung a Christmas sock.
When she resumed her vigil at the window, the hour was ten o'clock.

She glanced at the little Christmas tree, at the presents on the floor.
Then made a fresh pot of coffee, and paced the kitchen some more.
Her husband was asleep in his chair, like he'd done a hundred times.
As she watched the drifts build outside, she counted eleven chimes.

Please, God, let them be safe, she prayed, an earnest mother's plea.
Bring them home for Christmas, Lord. Please bring them home to me.
She watched for headlights on the county road, but there were none in sight.
The clock began to chime again. The hour was now past midnight.

But, wait, is that the dog barking? Could those be voices she heard outside?
She hurried to the door, where, there in the snow, stood her son and his bride.
"We drove in the back way," he said. "We thought we'd give you a surprise."
Under the porch light, she hugged them tight, Christmas day tears in her eyes.

Christmas is a time for homecoming, a time for families to reunite.
When children come home from distant places, sometimes late at night.
While the kids settled in at the kitchen table, she happily prepared a snack.
The clock on the wall chimed one o'clock. But no one was keeping track.

© 2007, Jerry Schleicher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Jerry Schleicher's poetry here.



Cowboy Christmas Play

Jenny was a sprightly girl along about age eleven.
The bunkhouse hands all doted on her since she was about seven.
Now Jenny got a great idea for Christmastime this year,
She wanted to have a Christmas play—but she had no actors near
Except the bunkhouse cowpokes—the idea filled them with fright.
But the boss said to do it and plan for Christmas Eve night.

With fear and trepidation the cowboys tried to decide
Who would play the various parts—they wanted to run and hide.
But Jenny had her own ideas about who would play who,
So she went to the bunkhouse to tell them what to do.

"Now Rory, you're the tallest, so Joseph will be your part,
Tex and Johnny will be shepherds, but don't let it break your heart.
Old Bill, Big Red and Stumpy, you three are just the right sizes,
So you'll be the three wise men, bringin' the baby his prizes.

I'm gonna go see Mary Jo, she's the foreman's wife,
To have her be the angel, the acting role of her life.
My Dad will be the narrator and I'll be helping too,
We'll put this play together and show you all what to do."

"Hey Jenny, " Big Red up and said, "Who's gonna be the baby?"
Jenny thought for a little while, 'n then she said, "Just maybe
The Millers down the road a ways would like to be in our play.
They just had a baby boy, I'll ride down and see what they say."

So off she rode and soon came back a smilin' thru and thru.
"Miz Miller and her baby boy will be Jesus—and Mary too!"
With that news the bunkhouse boys got the Christmas spirit anew.,
And made the plans and read the script from Luke, Chapter Two.

Then Stumpy scratched his head and took the time to ask,
"Where are yuh plannin' fer us tuh go tuh do this Christmas task?"
Old Bill stood up, looked at the barn, and said, "I reckon we're able
Tuh clean up this barn an' fix it up tuh be a Christmas stable.."

At last the eve of Christmas arrived, and not a bit too soon.
The hands, all in their costumes, waited 'neath the Christmas moon.
Jenny and her dad read the Christmas story that happened so long ago;
The boys and Millers played their parts with combined hearts aglow.

When it was done, they went to the house for cookies and hot cider.
Then everyone knelt down, 'cept Miz Miller on the chair glider,
And they all gave thanks to God for the gift of His Son,
Then heart-warmed with joy they all returned to their places, one by one.

© 2008, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of C.W. (Charles) Bell's poetry here.



Cowboy Logic and Mistletoe

He talks about his cowboy logic and he's quick to show
That when it comes to herbicides, he shields the mistletoe.
It's just a parasitic plant that one would never miss,
But underneath that mistletoe he's sure to get a kiss!
The cowboy's application of that logic shows he's smart
'Cause gettin' kissed is like a jump start for his lonely heart.
To understand that reasonin' and use it when he can
Just underscores the brilliance of a calculatin' man!

© 2008, Bobbie Hunter
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Bobbie Hunter's poetry here.



A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer

The worn and wrinkled cowboy
slowly shaved and combed his hair.
He picked the finest clothes he had
and then he dressed with care.
He stomped into his new bought boots
and shrugged into his coat.
The others would have questioned him,
but his thoughts seemed quite remote.

He stepped out of the bunkhouse,
and pulled his hat down tight,
Then climbed aboard his private horse
and rode into the night.
The single footin' gelding
ate the miles without a pause
And seemed to know the rider
had a most important cause.

Twenty miles on through the night,
with the rider deep in thought,
The stars came out to guide his way
to the goal the ride had bought.
His horse stopped on a gentle rise,
tho' the rider pulled no rein,
And the cowboy raised his head to stare
'Cross the quiet and lonely plain

He crawled down off the weary horse,
loosed the cinch so it could blow,
Then walked a yard or two away
and knelt down in the snow.
He crushed his hat against his chest,
raised his face up to the sky,
And then he started talking
like a friend was standing by.

"Lord, you see I rode a piece tonight
'Cause I knowed that you'd be here.
Course you wuz at the bunkhouse too,
but on this hill ya' seems  near.
As I look acrost this prairie
and see the things you¹ve made,
Why, comparin' things us men has done
really puts 'em in the shade."

"I thank you for the love you show
in everything you do,
And I'm proud to be a top-hand
with a loyal happy crew.
I've still got all my fingers,
my legs are bowed, but tough,
Rheumatiz' ain't touched my bones,
and my mind is sharp enough."

"Your spirit gives me comfort,
and I know that when I die,
You'll let me rest forever
at that bunkhouse in the sky.
Forgive me when I wander off,
like a wild jug-headed hoss,
And I pray You'll not give up on me
'fore I learn that you're the boss."

"I've rode out here to tell you
I'm thankful for a Savior's birth,
And to send you MERRY CHRISTMAS
from your folks down here on earth."
Then he mounted up and rode away
with a casual good-bye nod.
A cowboy with his heart at peace
in the palm of the hand of God.

© Gail T. Burton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Gail T. Burton's poetry here.



The Star and a Humble Cowboy

Lord, you cared so much for the shepherds,
     you sent the glad news first to them—
Before the kings and the wise men,
    so you might just speak again

To some other humble herdsman
    out here on the range abiding—
A brilliant star, an angel choir
    proclaiming "Peace!  Glad tidings!"

The shepherds were common people
    who slept in the fields near their flocks;
Their clothes might be dirty and ragged
    and rugged and rough their talk.

So, Lord, I needn't apologize
    for my appearance or my words.
I know you're right here beside me,
    and it seems that I've just heard

The shepherds hastening, excited,
    Extolling the star they had seen,
A baby born in a manger;
    Not to some great king and queen,

But to people who do the menial tasks
    That housewives and carpenters do,
And farmers and desk clerks and waitresses—
    Just people like me and you.

But famous rich men brought presents,
    Which should prove what I know to be true—
Christ came for shepherds and wise men
    And kings and cowboys too.

© 1996, Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot")
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Art copyright Buckshot Dot, used with her mighty kind permission 
Illustration by Dee Strickland Johnson 
("Buckshot Dot")

This poem was a Christmas Art Spur subject in 2007.


Read more of Dee Strickland Johnson (Buckshot Dot)'s poetry here.


Gifts in the Hay

On the long trek to the barn snow crunches under my feet
From somewhere in the trees an old horned owl hoots
The sweet smell of hay greets me as I open the door
The new calf is up and nursing, a worry no more.
As I step back out my breath appears in a cloud of steam
It's a night of beauty, a moment to dream.
Stars twinkle in a clear crisp sky
Prompting me to wonder once again why, why
God chose to have His Holy Son born in a barn, laid in hay
When He with such divine power had the choice of any way
Did He plan that the keepers of lowly cattle and sheep
Be the first believers of the Gift of the babe asleep?
For the angels led the herdsmen on their way
To the precious child cuddled in rags and hay.
I begin to hum "Silent Night" as I follow the pathway
So thankful for all of God's gifts born in the hay.

© 2006, Deanna Dickinson McCall
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Read more of Deanna Dickinson McCall's poetry here.





See a complete list of all the holiday poems from 2000-2008 here.

See the links here for holiday news and more.

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