Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, December 28, 2019

Mall Miracle

Go here. Have fun.
My SIL is a good, hard worker—steady and dependable.
He provides for his family.
All the necessities of life.
The only thing missing is extra money for . . . extras.
Trips to West Edmonton Mall for a day at Galaxyland aren’t within the scope of their usual budget. Thus it was with great joy that their family received, as a gift, passes for just that. A day ‘doing the rides’ and enjoying the fun at the world-famous park.
They packed up snacks and kids and made the twenty-minute trip to The Mall.
They rode, laughed, screamed and loved everything from the Carousel to the Mindbender. Finally, happily exhausted, they took a break—sitting on a set of steps and enjoying some of the treats they had brought.
Directly across from them was a bank of coin-operated video games. Presented, perhaps, as an alternative to riding/rushing/screaming. Or maybe as a little diversion to someone who is waiting for those who are riding/rushing/screaming. These games offer, as a reward, coupons to be used for the purchase of ‘Galaxyland stuff’.
As their family sat eating and recounting their experiences thus far, a middle-aged man (waiting for kids and/or grandkids) was playing one of the games.
‘Hat Trick.’
He was doing well.
Really well.
The machine lit up. And paid out.
2600+ coupons poured forth.
2600. Plus.
SIL laughed. “Wow! If you’re wondering what to do with those, we can take them off your hands!”
The man turned, smiled . . .
And dropped the entire pile into SIL’s lap.
2600+ coupons.
I needn’t tell you about the astonished faces or the hastily gasped out thanks as the man nodded, smiled again, and left.
Or the normally out-of-reach gifts chosen by several little girls who had just received their first glimpse of Heaven.
I would like to ask one thing of you, the reader, though.
Please pass this story around.
I want this man to know the joy he brought to those little girls.
Maybe, somehow, we can thank him.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Morning After


He gets it done, you know he does, cause he’s. . .well he’s The Claus. But sometimes . . .

It’s happened once or twice in ev’ry hundred years or so
When, for whatever reason, Santa simply cannot go,
And cause there’s no one willing, (and there are not any planes!)
Then Mrs. Santa steps right up and takes those Christmas reins.

The reindeer seem to know that something different’s in the air,
And get excited when they hear her step upon the stair.
And does she dress in red and white? In fur and velvet? No!
She’s dressed in leather for her chase o’er lands of heat or snow.

In a worn ol’ buckskin jacket and some goggles—Santa’s spares,
A pair of leather ‘racing’ gloves, a helmet o’er her hair,
Some ‘biker’ chaps and leather boots, a scarf that’s warm and soft,
One that covers mouth and nose when she’s up there. Aloft.

She steps into the loaded sleigh, the reindeer snort and stamp,
She smiles and says, “My children, it is time that we decamp!”
“And be more careful this year as we streak ‘cross swamp and heath,
I’d like to try this time to keep the bugs out of my teeth!”

And with a cry of “Wagons, ho!”, she, sleigh and deer are gone,
Leaving Santa and the elves at home to carry on,
And as they clean. And plan for all the next year’s girls and boys,
Mrs. Santa does the work:  delivering the toys.

You have to know she sets speed records everywhere she goes,
They’re still unsure just what flew through in Rome 10 years ago,
Those Salt Flats guys have not recovered—likely never will,
From the blur that passed them both like they were standing still.

And she and all the reindeer have a huge sleighload of fun.
Deliveries in record time. This woman gets ‘er done!
And as she very nimbly hops out of the sleigh. And in,
She’s never lost for laughs. Or found without her happy grin.

And with the rising of the sun, she’s back. She parks the sleigh,
Then checks it to be sure it’s safe to drive another day.
She gives each deer a great big hug and praises all of them,
And tells them, each and everyone, they are her brightest gems.

Then hurries in to Santa and the breakfast he’s prepared,
Expresses hope that what was troubling him has been repaired,
Then with a sparkle in her eye, she tells him of her night,
And all the records she has broken during this year’s flight!

Then Santa simply shakes his head and serves her scones and cream,
And teases her that her new name will be Madam Jet Stream,
And when she’s full. And drowsy from her chase up through the clouds,
He tucks her in and kisses her and tells her he is proud.

So on this Christmas Eve as you anticipate the morn,
Waiting for sleighbells to tell you someone is airborne,
It may not be old Santa who is pulling on the reins...
It might be Mrs. Santa, setting records once again!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas with the Mrs.

My annual Christmas Eve poem.

Again with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore . . .



On the night before Christmas, long hours ahead
The toddler awake, I’d just got her to bed.
The stockings were hung in a haphazard row,
While Mama assembled new toys just below.

The kids were asleep. Well, except for the last,
Just waiting for morning to get downstairs fast.
I toiled on alone, ‘cause there wasn’t a dad.
I had broken a nail and my language was bad.

From out on the lawn came a very loud sound,
It brought me to my feet, had me looking around.
I flew to the window, and thought as I ran,
‘Are my neighbour’s cats rifling through my garbage can?!’

It was bright (as can only the moon on snow be),
And I narrowed my eyes to be able to see.
And what did I glimpse, coming over the way?
But some deer, all in harness, and a stout little sleigh.

With someone in a coat that looked comfy and soft,
And clearly, some magic to keep them aloft.
They flew like a Michael Schumacher on course,
While the driver attempted some will to enforce.

"Now Baby! Now, Jazzi! Now, Frolic and Jolly!
On, Cherub! On, Angel! On, Kitten and Folly!
I need you to get to the rooftop this time!
And a fine, gentle landing would be so sublime!"

To say that they flew like some leaves past the attic,
Would be perfectly true, it was quite that erratic.
I was holding my breath as they shot toward the sky,
And prayed that my windows and roof would survive.

Then finally (thankfully) up on the roof,
The unmistakable sound of thirty-two hoofs.
Then some noise in the chimney I’d not heard before,
And someone emerged, on their knees, on the floor.

The figure was dressed in a warm, sooty coat,
With some Uggs on their feet and scarf 'round their throat.
With toys, books and clothes in a gi-normous sack,
Which they dropped to the floor with the words, “Oh, my back!”.

And then sparkling eyes were directed at me!
From under a hat that was worn with esprit.
I surprisingly saw, not a lad, but a lass,
Was I scared? Well at first, but soon it would pass.

In white teeth, she had clutched a short pencil end,
And a notebook, she held in one mittened hand.
Her round, wrinkled face shone with laughter and fun,
And I don’t think her happy laugh could be outdone!

She was joyful and glad, and just a bit round,
Her smile made me smile, 'twas so friendly and sound!
She gave me a grin and then winked an eye,
And I knew I was right to bid my fears goodbye.

She didn’t say much, simply nodded my way,
And I watched as she worked – like a pudgy ballet.
She finished her job, made a note in her book,
Then nodded and smiled and her exit she took!

I heard her footsteps as she ran to her sleigh,
Heard her call to her team as they all flew away.
Then this sweet woman cried, as she flew o’er the town,
"Happy Christmas to all, don’t let life get you down!"

Merry Christmas, my friends! And a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Groaner for Christmas

The Little Things: Laura Sylvestri Photography
Some questions:

Does Claustrophobic label those afraid of Santa Claus?
And low elf esteem in Santa’s elf? Depressed by what he was?

Is Christmas like your job? You work. The fat guy gets the credit.
And do you call an Elf who sings a wrapper? There, I said it.

Did Rudeolph get his famous name because he was obnoxious?
Are they really saying deck the Halls? A lawsuit makes me cautious.

Is the Christmas script unlike the rest because it has no-el?
A disbelieving kid a Rebel Without a Claus? Do tell.

Why is Santa’s Christmas wrap exactly like my Mom’s?
Is Santa Claus North Polish? Please, this question’s irked me some.

Is subordinate claus what Santa calls his clever little minions?
This Christmas time, because I’m broke, can I gift you my opinion?

When the Gingerbread man makes up his bed, does he use a cookie sheet?
Does Santa have three gardens for his “Hoe. Hoe. Hoe.”? Please Tweet.

These are things that scorn me when awake at half-past two.
Those trivial things that I can’t answer. Tell me, now, can you?

But while you think, remember, that it’s not the gifts and tree,
But who is there beside you as you’re sipping on Chablis.
The family and those friends with whom you live throughout the year.
And without whom life would be sad here in this biosphere.

Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts. Perhaps a grin?
So, all of us, together, we
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have wrought...
Did we help?
Or did we not?


Next week, we'll tell you all about,
Our Resolutions, Better Watch Out...

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