Christmas is full of traditions. Traditions that have been cherished, loved, and observed over the many generations in each family. In Return to New Parish Hannah learns about a wonderful cowboy tradition, that has been handed down from generation to generation in the James family.
I hope you enjoy Max’s rendition of the Cowboy Good Samaritan Story!
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
Chapter 6 – Things Change
“Come on, Dad, you have to tell it,” Johnny said.
“Yeah, Dad, it wouldn’t be right without it,” Joseph and Jake chimed in.
Max smiled, “Alright then,” he stood and returned to the fireplace.
Hannah’s seat mates looked like they were thrilled and got a little wiggly, but soon settled back down when their dad began to speak.
“Long, long ago, on Christmas Eve,” he started, “a group of cowboys were herding cattle on the trail from the south to the north. They’d been out on the trail with the herd for a good long while and they were all tired and worn from the work. It was cold, but the snows hadn’t come yet,” Max paused for a moment looking into the fire. “It’s said that this story can only be told around the campfire, so I guess our fireplace will have to do. The cowboys say this day on the trail was long and hard even if they ran out of daylight early. The cowboys had found a stream that had some patchy grass for the herd to feed off of and had decided to make camp there for the night. It was Christmas Eve after all and they were hankering to stop work for the day and get some much needed food and rest.
As one cowboy rode into camp, he fell off his horse, his saddle cinch had broken, it was worn into from age and use.
The other cowboys all laughed at him and taunted him saying, “You should’ve bought a new one last time we were home.” And, “That needed replaced long ago.” Another one accused, “I know you had the money to get a new one.” Then another one blamed, “Yeah, if he hadn’t of given it all away to his sister.”
The cowboy shrugged and replied, “She needed it, her family’s having a hard time.”
“Yep, and now you’re having a hard time. Herding cattle without a saddle isn’t going to be easy,” they laughed at him again.
“I think I can fix it,” he said, looking over the worn frayed leather.
“It’s your own fault that you’re in this mess,” they scoffed.
When dinner was done, they each got their portion of the stew from the pot and sat down to eat. It was about that time when a stranger walked into camp. The stranger said he’d been traveling far and that he’d been robbed, and that the robbers had taken his horse, his money, and all his possessions. He told them he was tired, hungry, and cold. He asked if they could share their supper with him.
One cowboy turned his back to the stranger and murmured, “Pathetic.”
Another one shouted at him, “Git outta here, we don’t want your problems!”
One cowboy looked at him in disgust and asked, “Can you pay for the food?”
Another one called him, “Liar! Where’s your proof? I know a pan handler when I see one. This ain’t no charity camp.”
The cowboy with the broken saddle invited, “Come over here, sir, I have plenty for us both.” He gave the stranger a blanket to warm himself in and later when dinner was done, he gave him his bedroll to sleep in.
You see he just couldn’t stand to see the old fella cold and hungry like that. Even though he was tired and hungry from all the days of being on the trail, he cared more for others than for himself. I digress,” Max excused himself and continued with his story.
“Well, the next morning when they woke the stranger was gone. The other cowboys started looking around, angrily, to see if he’d stolen their possessions. All their stuff was still there, nothing was out of place,” Max paused, looking around the room, then continued, “As the cowboy gathered up his things he noticed in place of his old worn out saddle there was a new one. It was much nicer than any saddle he’d ever seen before, it had a shape that resembled a Sheppard’s staff carved deep into the side of the saddle skirting.
The cowboy looked around again to see if he could find the stranger, but he didn’t even see any tracks where he left the camp. The other cowboys were impatient and wanted to get the herd moving. So he saddled up and went to work. He told that story each Christmas Eve for the rest of his life. He took good care of that saddle and gave it to his son when he was ready to leave this world. It’s said that each man who received the saddle passed it on to the next generation and always told the story at Christmas time.
Over time the cowboy community named that cowboy the Good Samaritan Cowboy, this is his story. I heard it long ago at Christmas time and promised I’d always tell his story and follow his example. I hope you’ll all do the same. The Good Samaritan Cowboy story was told to me when I was about five years old, and I’ve heard it every year since,” Max told them. “Uncle Alex was the one that told me and he taught me to live by the same standards that the Good Samaritan Cowboy lived by. Always share what you have with those in need, no matter if it’s a blanket and a bit of stew. He also taught me not to look for rewards here, but to look for ‘em to be saved in a storehouse in Heaven for you.””
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