I’ve got a bone to pick with you. On Christmas morning, I didn’t find a drop-dead gorgeous cowboy with a sinful smile lounging on my sofa or a Lexus (new or used) in my driveway. In fact, I didn’t find anything except a few bird droppings.
I don’t know if you got my name on the naughty list by mistake, but I can assure you that I’ve been a perfect angel. Really, really perfect. Ask around. Everyone I’ve murdered was only made up people, even though I modeled them precisely after live ones right down to their beady little eyes. And I only shot the ones who needed it. I can’t help it if there were a lot. I’m sure you understand that, you being the kindly old gentleman you are.
(I just wish you’d give up smoking that horrible pipe though. It’s not good for your health. And it’s not a good example to set for the children. Mrs. Claus should’ve taken you in hand long ago. I’ll bet you’re a stubborn old coot though.)
Now, I know you want to correct this oversight so I’m giving you another chance.
I’d still make room for that handsome cowboy anytime you can swing it. And you can definitely wiggle back into my good graces by delivering a diamond ring (30 karats would be nice. I don’t want to be too greedy.) and pad my bank account. A few million should cover it and I would be sooooo appreciative. Writers have to spend a lot on promotion you know.
But, if those are not an option…..can you just give me a few more hours in the day this next year? I have books out in February, May, August, October, and November and I can use all the time I can get.
Plus, I have deadlines to meet for new ones. Yikes!
Thank you, Santa, for all you do! I really mean that. You’re a saint!
Sincerely and with much love,
‘Twas the night before Christmas in this Junction of ours;
The sky over the prairie was ablaze with bright stars;
Our boots were lined up by the fire with care,
In hopes that Old Santa Claus soon would be there;
Felicia’s ornery mule napped snug there in the barn,
Whilst our visiting guest was spinning a yarn;
O’course JEANNIE in her wool socks and CHERYL in her cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out in the corral there arose such a ruckus,
MARY sprang her from bed to see what the heck was…
…outside the window, there on the barn roof,
She banged open the shutters and near busted a tooth!
The moon was so bright it near blinded our eyes
And the snow landed like whippin’ cream coverin’ a pie,
When, what to our hornswaggled sight should appear,
But a covered wagon and eight dusty reindeer!
When she saw the little old driver with red cheeks and nose,
LINDA flew right to work sweeping dust from his clothes.
He was cheery and bright, a right jolly cowpoke,
TRACY laughed when she saw him; he was her kind of folk.
Those reindeers, they ain’t docile. What a hissy they threw!
Nearly toppled the wagon, and Old Santa Claus too.
Quicker’n a youngin’ off to play hookie,
That old geezer came in and asked PAM for a cookie;
KAREN K. found one and he ate it, so KATHLEEN got milk
Then TANYA presented him with a scarf made of silk.
But CHARLENE, she hung back, we think she was a’feared
‘Cause all night she trembled and her eyes how they teared
No worry, KAREN W. told her, the fat guy’s a friend.
To us in the Junction and those ’round the bend,
Sure ’nuff Santa left a package in each Fillies’ boot,
Didn’t matter none to him, they was dusted with soot.
Then somethin’ happened, caught us all by surprise,
WINNIE, she showed up with an armload of pies.
We sat down to eat ‘em, and they tasted fine,
Thanks! With all of our deadlines, we hadn’t had time;
Old Santa asked for seconds; Bet that’s why he’s merry.
He tried pumpkin and apple, even pe-can and cherry.
PHYLISS heaped on whipped cream, and still he ate more.
His belly how it swelled! Would he fit out the door?
“It’s my big night,” he declared. “Only comes once a year.”
Good thing for that, too, or he’d burst, we do fear.
He stifled a burp, and a pipe out it came;
“Smoking’s not good for you,” MARGARET did loudly exclaim.
“All that sugar too,” KATHRYN hollered. “Think of your health.
FELICIA reminded. “Think of the children counting on your jolly old self!”
He listened real close and even nodded his head,
Took right to his heart everything they all said.
He tossed that old pipe in the fire with a pop,
“The Missus, she’s been tryin’ to get me to stop,”
With a hearty laugh and a promise to come back
The Fillies watched that old fella leap up the smokestack.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yee-haw,
And away they all flew, like twister-flung straw.
And we heard him exclaim as that team took flight,
“Merry Christmas, you bloggers, and to all a good-night.”
*****************************************************************************************************************************************JEFFREY KOTERBA’S ARTWORK USED WITH PERMISSION
VISIT HIS WEBSITE: http://www.jeffreykoterba.com
And with much love and thanks to our dear friend and former filly Cheryl St. John, for incepting this filly poem.
During this holiday season, it’s fun to think about Santa and the joy of giving. To look at Christmas lights and sing carols. To bake yummy sweets and play games. But as I pondered about the holiday letter I would like to share with you, only one thought came to mind – the greatest Christmas love letter ever written.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned … This is the verdict: Light has come into the world … whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
The most powerful being in existence took on the helpless form of a babe. The King of Kings chose to arrive in a humble, muck-filled stable. All to start the greatest love story every told. He came because he loved you. He loved me. He loved all who came before and all who will come after. And he will go to any lengths not only to prove his love but to win our hearts in return. Even to the point of sacrificing his life to gain our freedom.
So as we drive through neighborhoods, oohing and aahing over the beautiful Christmas lights, let us remember the Light who came into the world. As we experience the joy of giving, let us remember the One who gave everything to win our hearts. And as we enjoy the precious gift of time spent with family, let us remember the Father who loves us unconditionally with an everlasting love.
Since I love a good carol, here are some good old country boys singing about the greatest gift ever given.
A big Texas thanks to everyone who stopped by to put in a good word for Ed with Santa. He scoffed when I told him he would be getting a lump of coal this year, but the cute factor evidently saved him.
As a small token of his appreciation, he plucked two names from my Stetson (before shredding the hat).
Susan P and Kathleen O,
Ed drew your names! He’s sending each of you a Wishing for a Cowboy ebook. The Christmas anthology from Prairie Rose Publications contains not only heartwarming tales from eight popular authors, but also recipes for all kinds of Christmas goodies. He’ll be in touch shortly, ladies.
Ed, Miss Li’l Ol’ Biddy, Dog, Underdog, and I wish everyone the merriest of Christmases and much health, love, and laughter in the new year.
You’ve probably heard by now that I’ve been bad this year. All those things? I didn’t do them.
For example, I did not snap at my brother, repeatedly. I was showing him what good dental hygiene looks like. And anyway, if he hadn’t tried to usurp my spot in Mom’s lap, somebody who wasn’t me never would’ve snapped.
I also didn’t hop onto the kitchen counter. I climbed up there using a stool. If Mom hadn’t left the stool in such a convenient spot, that wouldn’t have happened, either.
The trash bag incident was the fault of a marauding pack of wild Chihuahuas who broke into the house while I was occupied trying to remove a squirrel from the premises. Have you ever seen the mess marauding Chihuahuas make? It isn’t pretty.
As for the bathroom trashcan… That was my brother. He’s always committing crimes and then pointing the paw at me. Let me tell you, Santa, he’s no angel. I was just trying to clean up the disaster.
When I dragged the roast out of the shopping bag, I was trying to help Mom put away the groceries. Do you realize how flimsy the packaging is on meat? Someone at the grocery store needs to address that.
Likewise, I did not rip open the bag of dog food. “Ripping” is too strong a word. I carefully chewed off a corner—and I only did that so Mom wouldn’t have to wrestle the bag open on her own.
As for peeing in the house… That rule simply isn’t fair. Mom pees in the house. I’ve tried to teach her to go outside, but she’s stubborn. And besides, there’s no DNA evidence to support her claim that she caught me in the act.
I did not drag the clean sheets out of the laundry basket, scruff them into a pile, and lie on them. Everybody knows sheets are much more comfortable on the bed.
Neither did I hide Mom’s shoe. I was redecorating, and Mom left her shoes in a spot that completely destroyed the aesthetic. One shoe created a pleasing avant-garde effect. Two shoes was one too many.
Mom was also to blame when someone bit her nose. She shouldn’t have tried to trim my toenails. I go to great trouble to grow my nails to the precise length required for gardening (which, by the way, isn’t being bad, despite Mom’s insistence she hadn’t planned to put a plant in that spot). It was just a tiny little nip, anyway.
I did not leave teeth marks on the corner of a book. I was checking to make sure Mom’s editor hadn’t missed anything embarrassing. (Mom is notorious for mixing up words like “desert” and “dessert,” you know.) I had to turn the page somehow.
And speaking of her editor… I admit I typed a message into a chatroom where Mom was conversing with the Prairie Rose honchos. I can explain that, though: The minute Mom stepped away from her desk, I could tell gossip was about to erupt. Was I supposed to sit quietly and let them savage Mom while her back was turned?
I also did not find a chicken bone in the yard and attempt to run off and gnaw on it. That was another case of me trying to tidy up the place. Indoors isn’t the only part of the environment around here that could use a good cleaning.
In my defense, I should mention that I try to atone for all the bad things I don’t do by being a fierce watchdog. Nobody gets into my house—not burglars, rapists, ax-murderers, or Mom’s family. (You can’t be too careful, and some of Mom’s relatives look pretty sketchy.)
I hope you will keep all of this in mind when you decide who’s been naughty and nice this year. Just to be sure there’s no mistake, I belong on the “nice” list. If you have to put someone around here on the naughty list, I think it should be pretty clear by now that Mom’s the real troublemaker.
I hope you will bring me my own treats. Otherwise, my brothers and sister will just claim I stole theirs. I would never, ever, contemplate snatching a treat out of someone else’s mouth, no matter what the others say.
If the cookies and milk are gone when you get here, it’s because there’s a marauding cat in the neighborhood, too.
(Ed would like to convince someone to vouch for him to Santa, and he’s willing to stoop to bribery to do so. Leave a comment telling him what you want for Christmas. He’ll pick two commenters and send each an ebook version of the Christmas anthology Wishing for a Cowboy.)
It reminds me that I must thank you, and God too, for giving me what I want most year after year–Christmas with my family, which this year, includes my new granddaughter. Oh, and thanks for my new release, Christmas Lights—I dedicated it to her.
But I digress. There was one Christmas, some thirty years ago, where I almost didn’t get to keep what I asked for—my newborn daughter. Yes, you remember her? She had been born strong and healthy and nine pounds two weeks before…
Before bacterial meningitis stomped in and almost claimed her life on that dreadful December 21. Our white picket fence-perfect life, with a two-year-old son and new baby girl, spun hideously out of control. It was Christmastime, yet here we were, in the same hospital where she had been born. Wearing scrubs, washed down with Betadine. Sobbing, shocked…staggering through a neonatal intensive care unit.
….Spinal tap? I can’t even remember my birthday while I struggle to sign the form.
Tears, strangling pain. What’s happening? Neonatal nurses, who are angels from heaven, tell me it’s okay to cry. They cry, too… Their strong but soft hands around me, hold me up.
My husband, my hero–his strength seeps into me as he chokes back his own tears and fears.
Finally our wise and wonderful pediatrician sits us down. “You need to be with your little boy now,” she says.
My backbone turns to ice first. “Will he…?”
“No. This strain is not contagious.” (Small mercies.) “But it’s Christmastime, and he needs you, too.”
So we split time, taking our little guy to see Santa. Helping him hang his stocking—as well as his newborn sister’s. Trying to answer his baby-talk question about where his baby is…
Praying endlessly. Shuddering in dread every time the phone rings.
Once, it’s Uncle Ted calling. My heart hammers horribly until I hear his voice—no caller ID in those days. He’s a pharmacist. I feel a little better: the antibiotic protocol your doctor has prescribed for little Christine is cutting edge.
Still…there’s a little red velvet Christmas dress from her Uncle Mike that can’t be worn inside an incubator. No holiday bonnet for a little head stuck with IV lines.
She’s so strong, the doctor tells us on December 22. But this is very serious. If she survives, be prepared for deafness, blindness. Seizures. Crippling. Mental deficits.…the ugly list goes on and on.
It’s okay, honey, I reassure my husband when I can form words. I’m a teacher. I’ll teach her everything she needs to know….
They allow Christi out of her heated, enclosed crib to nurse. We have to be careful of all the tubes and wires. There’s even a rocking chair for me. At home I try to feel like a new mommy, pumping milk and freezing it to take to her. The bottles are so tiny.
Santa, do you remember? Early on December 23, you’re finishing the last toy when the doctor calls us, after morning rounds. “Mrs. Hanson, your baby will survive for sure, but, remember….” Pause. Warning. Panic. Of course we don’t forget the possibility of all those bad things.
Why do I want to go hide in the footwell of the desk in the living room?
December 24: Santa, you’re ready to hit the skies, and we are leaving for church. Sometimes, there’s nothing left but God.
The phone rings as we pick up the car keys. It’s the head of neonatal pediatrics.
Terror, my heart starts to die… then joy to our little world.
“Your baby will live,” says Dr. Miller. I can hear his smile. “We’ve tested everything. She is fine and perfect in every single way. Have a merry Christmas.”
Oh, yes. I knew then for sure, and I knew it later. Perfect vision, honor roll. Homecoming princess, gifted pianist, star athlete, cum laude at university…And I know it now: The Lord lives.
And the Lord loves.
You are my winner of Wishing for a Cowboy!
Watch for an email from me, so I can obtain your snail-mail
address and get the book off to you.
We’re so delighted to have Julie Lence come to visit our neck of the woods. She always has something interesting to share. She also has a giveaway so please comment. Please make her welcome.
The Poinsettia is a native Mexican plant. Its origins trace back to present day Taxco. The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd, is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and is defined as a female flower, without petals and usually without sepals, surrounded by individual male flowers enclosed in a cup-shaped structure called a cyathium. The Euphorbia genus contains 700-1000 species. The Aztecs in central Mexico cultivated the plant and used the colorful leaves, known as bracts, to make a reddish-purple dye for clothes and makeup. The Poinsettia’s milky sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers.
Joel Roberts Poinsett is credited as the first American to bring the plant to the United States. A botanist from Greenville, South Carolina, Poinsett was also the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. Best remembered as the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, Poinsett traveled to the Taxco area, discovered the colorful plants growing on adjacent hillsides and had some of them shipped to his home, where he grew them in his greenhouse. From there, he gifted some of the plants to his friends and also sent some to botanical gardens and to fellow botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia. Bartram sent the plant to his friend Robert Buist. Buist was a plants-man from Pennsylvania and thought to be the first person to sell the Poinsettia under its original name. Legend has it the Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd, became known as the Poinsettia in the 1830’s, after Joel Robert Poinsett.
How did the Poinsettia become known as the Christmas plant? The Aztecs prized the poinsettia and believed it to be a symbol of purity. In the 17th century, Franciscan monks in Mexico incorporated the flower into their Fiesta of Santa Pesbre; a nativity procession. This is the first time the Poinsettia was associated with Christmas, leading Mexico’s Christians to adopt the plant as their Christmas Eve flower. The star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The red leaves represent Christ’s blood and the white leaves symbolize his purity.
Once the monks included the Poinsettia in their nativity procession, a few legends sprang up as to why and how the plant became associated with Christmas. One is the tale of poor, young Pepita who was upset because she did not have a gift to give to the baby Jesus at Christmas Eve mass. As she made her way to the church, her cousin tried to cheer her up. Pedro told Pepita that even the smallest gift presented to Jesus in love would make the Christ child happy. Pepita picked some weeds and placed them beside the manger. Before everyone’s eyes, the weeds magically transformed into beautiful red flowers. Another tale says it was an angel who told Pepita to pick the weeds and bring them to the church. Regardless, the parishioners swore they’d witnessed a miracle, and from that evening on, the flowers became known as Flores de Noche Buena; Flowers of the Holy Night.
Have you gotten a poinsettia this Christmas or have plans to do so? As a Thank You for chatting with me today, I’m gifting 2 lucky winners Kindle copies of each of my 3 short Christmas stories. Merry Christmas Everyone! I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season. Julie