Caussey's Corner

Christmas Without Daddy: The Coldest Texas Christmas

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


The town is small and dull when set against the great cities of America, but large compared to the other hamlets scattered across the Texas panhandle. It has been snowing for several days, and the woods, which lie a short distance from the house, are garbed in frigid cycle garments and silver raiment. The wind comes across the fields, kicking the orphaned flakes into windward arms. Later to be gathered by welcoming ice parents hiding among the glacier drifts along the road fences and ditches and nestled near the sides of the house.

I woke up early this particular day. Because today is Christmas, and we get to open presents from Santa. And maybe Daddy will come home, and we can open the gifts together. I slip out of bed and run to the restroom and potty all by myself. Mommy would be so proud of her Big Boy. As I scoot down the stairs I am careful because I can still remember the tumble I took a few days ago. I busted my lips, but Mommy told me how brave I was.

There is a fearsome sound in the early morning air. The windmill is making an awful racket. The wind must be doing the Gandy Dance through those broken blades, sending frantic moans across the metal roof of the house and through cracks in the wall near the porch. Me and Daddy are going to fix it when he gets home. Later this morning Mommy and I will have to break the ice for the horses and feed the cow and calf in the barn.

Christmas Without Daddy: The Coldest Texas Christmas


The room where the large wood stove is centered is cold. The breath of the dragon goes out when not fed by the members of the log pile stacked in the corner near the kitchen door. The kitchen is off to the left and lacks the morning activity it once witnessed when Daddy was home. Smells of bacon and eggs and home-baked biscuits have been scarce for some time now. Mommy still cooks breakfast, but it is later each day, and she no longer sings as she places the bread in the oven and fries the eggs in the big iron skillet.

The wind whistles around the porch, rattles the windows in the front room and speeds toward the pasture behind the house. I hope the old barn doesn’t fall down. Daddy and I worked on it this summer for several weeks. I held the nails in the small pouch and got the tools from the box when Daddy called for them. Mommy fixed us lunch, and we had pork chops and gravy and cold ice tea. I drank my tea from a small fruit jar with a handle that Grandma Mary gave me for my birthday. After lunch I stretched out on the porch’s cool cement floor while Mommy and Daddy took a nap in the big bedroom. Sometimes they talked where I could hear some of the words but couldn’t understand what they were saying. But I could hear Mommy crying softly and Daddy telling her that he loved her and that everything was going to be all right.

Then I hear a sound out at the front door on the porch. The door has been opened, and I can hear someone stamping their feet. The wind sends cold air seeping under the door adding more discomfort to the room. I hear a cough and someone yelling, “Anybody home! Anybody home on this fine Christmas morning?” It must be Daddy. Now we can have Christmas, and Daddy and me can open our presents. I drew a picture of me and him working on the barn for his present. “Mommy, Mommy, come quick. Daddy is home!”

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