Slim Wilson’s Christmas

The weather on the ranch had turned from a beautiful sunny Christmas Eve into a threatening north wind with a hint of cold to come. All day the other cowboys had been teasing Slim about him going to the Church social tonight just to hear Christmas music. Little did they know his main reason was the chocolate cake he just knew they would serve after the music program. He hadn’t had any chocolate cake since he had come to work for the Rocking B ranch 8 months ago and that was a long time for a young man.
They finally drove the last cow into the pens and the days work was done. Slim saddled his horse and rode off towards town to the shouts and teasing of the other cowboys. By now the weather had worsened into a fine mist and much colder, but the vision of chocolate cake danced merrily in his head. On the ride to town he came by the widow Brown’s place, a poor run down farm she was trying to keep together and raise her 5 year old son, Jimmy. As he approached the house he heard the widow chopping wood. The light was fading fast and she had hardly gotten an arm full cut. There’s not much of a contest between chocolate cake and cutting stove wood but Slim knew “Duty is duty”. He dismounted, tied his horse and took over the job of cutting wood for the widow. By now the mist had turned to a light snow. Slim filled the wood box just as the widow Brown called him to have some supper. In his haste to leave the ranch he had forgotten to eat. The smell and sounds of a hot home cooked meal tore him from the vision of chocolate cake.
At supper Slim asked Jimmy, the 5 year old if Santa was going to come see him. Jimmy hung his head in silence and the widow said quietly that things were tough on the farm and Santa probably would not come by their home. Slim left the kitchen with and idea. He went to the barn and found an apple box and took the end off. He quickly drew a horses head and roughly sawed most of the head out. He then went back to the house and found Jimmy had gone to bed. Slim sat by the fire and began to whittle the horse head with his pocketknife. It was slow going but he soon had a fair looking horse. He found an old mop and sawed the strings off and nailed the horse head to the stick. He then used some of the old mop strings to fashion a main for the horse. Two buttons made the eyes and a leather pigging string from his saddle for reins. Quite a stick horse Slim felt.
Slim took his leave of the widow Brown’s home and went on to the church. As he made his way through the now heavy snow to the music social he found all had gone home except the ladies cleaning the kitchen. He went in and found one slice of chocolate cake left. The ladies wrapped it for him and he left for the ranch. As he came by the widow Brown’s house there were lights on and he stopped. Little Jimmy had awakened and found the stick horse. He was riding around the living room whooping and hollering and having a great time. “See what Santa left for me!”, he shouted. “This is the best Christmas I have ever had!”. Slim gave the slice of cake to Jimmy and rode on to the ranch.
The guys were still up and playing cards. They began teasing him about the Church social. “You know”, said Slim, “I have found that maybe a stick horse is better than chocolate cake.”

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