The Christmas Horse
The young couple had made
their usual hurried, pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where
dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The
farm had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine which
topped the hill behind the farm, and through the years had become
a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the
countryside. The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the
years had taken their toll, but they sold a few foals each year,
and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and
contentment at day's end.
Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the
young couple confronted the old folks. "Why do you not at least
dispose of "The Old One". She is no longer of use to you. It's
been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners
and save where you can. Why do you keep her anyway?"
The old man looked down as his worn boot
scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the
Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind
He replied softly, "We keep her because of
love. Only because of love."
Baffled and irritated, the young folks
wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back
toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. So it was,
that because of the leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation
smouldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the
first spark fall. None but the "Old One".
In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was
ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay.
With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife
to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved
horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat
drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the
fire's fury. By the time the fire department arrived, only
smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife.
They thanked those who had come to their aid, and the old man
turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as
he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.
Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much,
but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us,
therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought
comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and
give thanks to God that it has been spared."
And so, he took her by the hand and helped
her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the
back of his hand. As they stepped over the little knoll at the
crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the
incredible beauty before them. Seemingly, every glorious,
brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering,
snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with
heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a crystal
crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal
created a Christmas tree such as this.
Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder
and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward. There, beneath
the tree, was their Christmas gift. Bedded down about the "Old
One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe. At
the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her
muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great
dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill,
stepping daintily through the snow. The foals were frightened and
dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling,
hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked
their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares pressed uneasily
against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to
safety beneath the pine.
And now, she lay among them and gazed at
the faces of those she loved. Her body was brittle with years, but
the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift
- Because of love. Only Because of love.
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List of Horse Jokes,
Italian Christmas Eve
I thought it would be a nice idea to bring
a date to my parent's house on Christmas Eve. I thought it would
be interesting for a non-Italian girl to see how an Italian family
spends the holidays. I thought my mother and by date would hit it
off like partridges and pear trees.
So, I was wrong.
I had only known Karen for three weeks
when I extended the invitation. "I know these family things can be
a little weird," I told her, "but my folks are great, and we
always have a lot of fun on Christmas Eve."
"Sounds fine to me, " Karen said.
I had only known by mother for 31 years
when I told her I'd be bringing Karen with me. "She's a very nice
girl and she's really looking forward to meeting all of you"
"Sounds fine to me, " my mother said.
And that was that. Two telephone calls.
Two sounds-fine-to-me's. What more could I want ?
I should point out, I suppose, that in
Italian households, Christmas Eve is the social event of the
entire year - an Italian woman's raison d'etre. She cleans. She
cooks. She bakes. She orchestrates every minute of the entire
evening. Christmas Eve is what Italian women live for. I should
also point out, I suppose, that when it comes to the kind of women
that make Italian men go nuts, Karen is it. She doesn't clean. She
doesn't cook. She doesn't bake. And she has the largest breasts I
have ever seen on a human being.
I brought her anyway.
7:00 PM we arrive . . .
Karen and I walk in and putter around for
half an hour waiting for the other guests to show up. During that
half hour, my mother grills Karen like a cheeseburger and cannily
determines that Karen does not clean, cook, or bake. My father
equally observant. He pulls me into the living room and notes,
"She has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a human being."
7:30 PM Others arrive - Uncle Ziti walks
in with my Aunt Mafalde, assorted kids, assorted gifts. We sit
around the dining room table for antipasto, a symmetrically
composed platter of lettuce, roasted peppers, black olives,
salami, prosciutto, provolone and anchovies.
When I offer to make Karen's plate she
says "Thank you. But none of those things, okay?" She points to
"You don't like anchovies?" I asked. "I
don't like fish," Karen announces to one and all as 67 other
varieties of foods-that-swim are baking, broiling, and simmering
in the next room. My mother makes the sign of the cross. Things
are getting uncomfortable.
Aunt Mafalde asks Karen what her family
eats on Christmas Eve. Karen says "Knockwurst."
My father, who is still staring in a daze,
at Karen's chest, temporarily snaps out it to murmur,
My mother kicks him so hard he gets a blood clot.
None of this is turning out the way I'd
8:00 PM Second course - The spaghetti and
crab sauce is on the way to the table. Karen declines on the crab
sauce and says she'll make her own with butter and ketchup. My
mother asks me to join her in the kitchen. I take my "Merry
Christmas" napkin from my lap, and place it on the "Merry
Christmas" tablecloth and walk into the kitchen.
"I don't want to start any trouble", my
mother says calmly, clutching a bottle of ketchup in her hands.
"But if she pours this on my pasta, I'm gong to throw acid in her
"Come on," I tell her. "It's Christmas.
Let her eat what she wants."
My mother considers the situation, then
nods. As I turn to walk back into the dining room, she grabs my
"Tell me the truth," she says, "are you
serious with this tramp?"
"She's not a tramp," I reply. "And I've
only known her for three weeks."
"Well, it's your life", she tells me, "but
if you marry her, she'll poison you ".
8:30 PM More fish....My stomach is knotted
like one of those macramm
plant hangers that are always three times larger that the plants
they hold. All the women get up to clear away the spaghetti
dishes, except for Karen, who instead lights up a cigarette.
"Why don't you give them a little hand?" I
politely suggest. Karen makes a face and walks into the kitchen
carrying three forks.
"Dear, you don't have to do that", my
mother tells her, smiling painfully.
"Oh, okay," Karen says, putting the forks
on the sink. As she re-enters the dining room, a wine glass flies
over her head and smashes against the wall. From the kitchen, my
mother says "Whoops."
I vaguely remember that line from Torch
Song Trilogy. "Whoops?" No. "Whoops is when you fall down an
More fish comes out. After some groaning,
Karen tries a piece of scungilli which she describes as "slimy,
like worms." My mother winces, bites her hand and pounds her chest
like one of those old women you always see in the sixth row of a
funeral home. Aunt Mafalde does the same. Karen, believing this is
something that all Italian women do on Christmas Eve, bites her
hand and pounds her chest. My Uncle Ziti doesn't know what to make
of it. My father's dentures fall out and chew a six-inch gash in
10:00 PM Coffee, dessert ....
Espresso all around. A little anisette. A
curl of lemon peel. When Karen asks for milk, my mother finally
slaps her in the face with a cannoli. I guess it had to happen
sooner or later. Karen, believing that this is something all
Italian women do on Christmas Eve, picks up a cannoli and slaps my
mother with it.
"This is fun," Karen says.
Fun ? No. Fun is when you fall down an
elevator shaft. But amazingly, everyone is laughing and smiling
and filled with good cheer - even my mother, who grabs me by the
shoulder and says, "Get the witch out of my house".
Sounds fine to me.
Submitted by Pat, Smith Mountain Lake,
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The History of the Christmas Carol
What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans,
and especially that partridge who won't come out of the pear tree
have to do with Christmas?
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not
allowed to practice their faith openly.? Someone during that era
wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.? It has
two levels of meaning; the surface meaning, plus a hidden meaning
known only to members of their church.? Each element in the carol
has a code word for a religious reality, which the children could
- The partridge in a pear tree
was Jesus Christ.
- Two turtle doves were the
Old and New Testaments.
- Three French hens stood for
faith, hope and love.
- The four calling birds were
the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
- The Five golden rings
recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old
- The six geese a-laying stood
for the six days of creation.
- Seven swans a-swimming
represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy,
Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and
- The eight maids a-milking
were the eight beatitudes.
- Nine ladies dancing were the
nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience,
Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.
- The ten lords a-leaping were
the Ten Commandments.
- Eleven pipers piping stood
for the eleven faithful disciples.
- Twelve drummers drumming
symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
So there is your history lesson
for today and now you know how that strange song became a
Submitted by Tom,
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This morning I
heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out Christmas
shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row
after row of toys and everything else imaginable. And after hours
of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on
those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her
She was feeling what so many of us feel
during the holiday season time of the year. Overwhelming pressure
to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday
food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person
on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our
card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone
who sent us a card.
Finally the elevator doors opened and
there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the
car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of
stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and
stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be
found, strung up and shot.
"From the back of the car everyone heard a
quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry we already crucified him."
For the rest of the trip down the elevator
it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
Don't forget this year to keep the One who
started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed,
purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different
this whole world would be.
Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, Md.
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Dec 22nd Humor Page