Among my favorite Christmas books is Clement C. Moore’s classic A Visit From St. Nicholas. I like the story and the rhyme, and I like the pictures in my old copy of the book I have, although not all of its pages are intact.
Another of my most favorites is O Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, although I have trouble finishing it because I can’t see the words with tears in my eyes. Imagine giving up your most prized possession to have money to buy your husband something for his most prized possession, only to discover he has sold it to have money to buy something to go with your most prized possession, which, alas, now has been sold. True love and sacrifice, for sure.
Thinking about the holiday and the books and stories associated with it gave me an idea of creating one a little more in line with my life and things important to me, who has been married to a farmer for more than three decades.
So, with apologies to Mr. Moore and anyone else who may have penned anything similar, I offer up a farmer’s version of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas:
‘A Farmer’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas’
’Twas the night before Christmas when all through the farm
All the creatures were stirring, safe from all harm.
The pitchfork was hung by the haymow with care
Because chances were Farmer Jim soon would be there.
The cows were nestled all snug in their straw beds
While visions of salt licks danced in their heads.
Raccoons slinked high and low, on the prowl for parcels of feed
And pigeons roosted in the rafters with craws full of seed.
When out in the barnyard there arose such a clatter
Farmer Jim sprang from the tractor to see what was the matter.
He shut down the power and throttle in a flash
Threw open the cab door, kicking out some trash.
The security light cast shadows in the new laid stone
And he stepped on the remnants of Buddy’s discarded soup bones.
When what should his aging eyes settle on in the muck
But a brand-new shiny and loaded diesel pick-em-up truck.
With a Hemi engine so mighty and keen and full of life
The farmer knew in a moment it should be for his wife.
More rapid than eagles those thoughts left his head
And he whistled and whooped and said, “It’s mine,” instead.
Now an Escalade, Chevy, Honda or GMC would have hit the right chord
Or even a Nissan, a Toyota, a Suzuki or a Ford.
But this topped them all with the best of them all in a Dodge Ram.
And Farmer Jim wanted to get going, get out of there now; shoo, scram.
As chaff from the wheat before it hits the ground dry
When it meets with an obstacle, mounts to the sky,
So through the gate into the pasture the powerful quad cab flew
With a bed full of tools and Farmer Jim on board, too.
And then, quick as a wink, the sleeping bovine herd
Was roused from their slumber by the spectacle so absurd.
They raised their majestic heads, and chewing their cud,
Followed each rev of the engine, each splay of the mud.
He was dressed all in work duds, from his head to his toes
And manure, some blood, sweat and grease were splattered on those clothes.
He swiped the sweat off his brow with the sleeve of his shirt,
And he plopped on his safety glasses and work hat and then kicked up some dirt.
A piece of straw he held tight in his teeth
And bits of it crumpled away to the floorboards beneath.
His smiling face soon gave way to concentration
As he maneuvered the truck into some doughnut rotations.
While avoiding the barbed wire, the hot fence and the rock shelf,
He laughed when he thought about it in spite of himself.
A pause in the power and time to regroup
Soon gave him to know his common sense had flown the coop.
He spoke not a word, but went back to his work
And filled all the feeders and hay racks; no labor would he shirk.
And pulling out the hanky hanging from the back pocket of his pants
He wiped off his face and looked at the truck as if in a trance.
He sprang to the tractor, to the key gave a turn
And now his wits about him, snaked down the lane to the field for which he did yearn.
Thinking no better Christmas gift could there be for him
Than a farm, farm living and — of course — his wife, Mim.