One the day before Christmas, a Cowboy, homebound,
Rode into the desert on a horse he called Brown.
He had long ago left his family behind,
As he searched for their fortune in an old desert mine.
Now the gold in his pocket felt more like a stone,
As he read his son’s letter – Daddy, please come on home.
The Cowboy had promised he’d be back Christmas Day,
But the snow in the mountains now stood in his way.
The dust devils swirled and the sand stung his face
Beneath the great spires that rose in this place.
The cold came on sudden in the still desert air;
The Cowboy wished for home instead of being out there.
As the last rays of sunlight played out on the spire,
He tied up old Brown and made a tumbleweed fire.
He wrapped up in a blanket to keep out the chill.
The horse gave a sh-shudder, and the night grew still.
“Merry Christmas,” he said softly to the horse he call Brown,
And the Cowboy dozed off asleep on the ground.
He dreamed of the family, that he held so dear,
And feared he’d not seem them at Christmas this year.
Old Brown flopped his eyelids and wheezed a snore,
As he slept like the Cowboy for a moment or more.
And then! All of a sudden! A great howling came!
The Cowboy jumped up for the desert had changed.
The moon has risen in the Eastern sky,
And the desert howled with a Coyote cry.
The Coyotes skated and skied. They sledded and slipped.
They had a belly giggle as one of them flipped.
The Coyotes sang and the Coyotes danced,
And the Coyotes pranced ’round the cowboy pants!
And the Cowboy wondered, could it possible be
That at Christmas here, coyotes dress just like me?
They all wore tall hats and boots and spurs,
And bright native dresses for the Coyote girls.
A Coyote named Indy rolled on along,
As another named Belle sang a Coyote song.
A fiddler played loud and howled at the moon,
And the Coyotes sang carols almost in tune.
They all looked so funny that they tickled old Brown,
And he snorted horse giggles with a whinny snicker sound.
And after the music, the time became right
To decorate the cactus with bright Christmas light.
Up on the slopes coyotes whizzed by
Patrolling the Mesa, scanning the sky.
The Ski patrol searched, Looking all through the night
Then howled “Hooray!” Santa Paws was in sight.
And a Coyote Santa dressed in red and white
Whizzed down from the Mesa holding his light.
And to the children he gave coyote presents galore –
Bright colored rocks, cactus candy, and more.
For the Coyote boys, there were lassos and spurs,
With corn husk dolls for the Coyote girls.
And a Coyote chieftain in a feathered headdress
Had a bowl of a chuckle as he watched the night fiesta.
And three wise Coyotes in their pink Cadillac
Spotted a star and followed it back.
Then suddenly at midnight, from the same star above
Born upon the wind, came a brilliant light of love.
Its glow fell on the mission, and many angles sang.
All the world was silent as bells in whisper rang.
And Coyote howls turned into quiet song,
As one by one to the mission they all walked along.
And in their paws each carried one small thing,
A simple gift of love for the newborn King.
A piece of cactus, a flower, a paw full of sand,
Treasure measured in the heart, taken from the land.
The Cowboy kept thinking “What can I do?”
So he followed the Coyotes into the mission, too.
A wise Coyote preacher howled a Coyote “Howl-o!”
And said, “Welcome my friend with your chunk of gold.
Does the gold own you as others I have known?
And is gold the reason that you’re not at home?’
The Cowboy reached for the gold and laid the piece down
Gave his gift and turned to the horse he called Brown.
As he left the mission on that joyous desert night,
All the heavens and the earth filled with a wondrous light.
And the mission bells tolled “Let there be Peace on Earth”
On this night of nights, upon the Christ Child’s birth.
When he woke in the morning, there was not a sound.
No sigh at all of the strange Coyote town.
Just the same old desert, how funny it seemed.
Did it really happen, or was it only a dream?
Then it occurred to the Cowboy that there might still be time
To make good his promise at this Christmastime.
He jumped on old Brown who reared up to the sky
And ran like the wind – he could almost fly!
The Cowboy didn’t notice the gold on the ground.
It meant nothing now, as he raced homeward bound!
They crossed the wide prairie toward a small distant light,
Through Rabbit Ears Pass, they’d be home tonight!
I was just before midnight when they made it home.
Thank goodness, this Christmas they would not be alone.
The Cowboy’s little boy heard an old familiar knock
And that whinny snicker sound as he undid the lock.
He opened the door wide and called out to his mom
Through laughter and through tears, “Daddy’s come home!”
All about the Coyotes, the Cowboy explained,
And what he had seen, how little he’d gained.
They laughed at his “howling” just like Coyotes do,
And the spirit of Christmas inside of them grew!
The boy asked his daddy if someday he would see
The mysterious Coyotes and their families.
The Cowboy reached down and picked up his son
And smiled as he answered and remembered the fun.
“Just never go at Christmas and never for the gold”
For Christmas is for family when we need someone to hold.
And from far, far away a howl said “Amen.”
And old Brown whinny snickered, “they were all home again!”