Illustration by Scott Nelson


by DW Groethe

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, used with permission

Montana ranch hand, poet, and picker DW Groethe creates an illustrated Christmas poem every year. This one is from his entertaining chapbook, A Charlie Creek Christmas & Other Wint’ry Tales of the West.

This illustration is by Scott Nelson. Among his many credits, Scott Nelson also has illustrated Rodney Nelson’s Wilbur’s Christmas Gift, and volumes of his Up Sims Creek columns (including a new one, just released) and Rodney’s daughter, photographer Annika Plummer’s new book, The Apple Story.

DW performs his poetry and music at venues small (which he really likes) and large. He’s appeared many times at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and has been invited to the National Traditional Council for the Arts’ National Folk Festival, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Library of Congress, and other places. Find more about DW Groethe at CowboyPoetry.com.