The Christmas Gift

Now milking’s just an awful chore, it happens twice a day;
no matter what you want to do, it’s always in the way.
And every day at 4 AM, dad roused me from my bed
so we could go and milk the cows and get the livestock fed.

I often grumbled and complained about the early hour
but dad just said we’ve got to milk before the cows turn sour.
I’d slowly stumble out of bed and pull my work clothes on
so we could get the milking done before the break of dawn.

About the time I turned fifteen, I overheard my father
tell mother that he really wished I didn’t have to bother
with milking in the morning, cause of my demands at school.
But mother said, “You need the help; don’t be a crazy fool.”

Now milking cows was nothing but a source of deep frustration
until I heard my folks that night in earnest conversation.
A thought occurred to me that I had never thought before,
my father loved me! It was time to even up the score.

I laid awake that Christmas Eve and thought, as bright stars shone,
that I could give my dad a gift and milk those cows alone.
I must have woke up 20 times to scratch a match and see
what time is was, ‘cause I’d be up and out the door by three.

I pulled my clothes on, laced my boots, crept down those creaky stairs,
real careful not to make a noise to keep dad unawares.
I made my way out to the barn and gathered up the pans
and in the quiet of the night, filled up those big milk cans.

I made it back into the house and climbed right into bed
just ‘fore dad came to wake me up; “Its milking time”, he said.
I told him that I’d be along as he headed out the door
and laughing to myself, I smiled about the finished chore.

Dad went into the milking barn and spread a little hay,
then gathered up the stools and such like he did every day.
But when he went to get the cans he found the milking done,
it didn’t take him very long to know I was the one…

He made his way back from the barn and came to where I lay;
he said, “You thought you’d fool me on this here Christmas Day.
In all my years, I don’t recall a time like this, you see
for no one’s done a nicer thing than this, I guarantee.”

I hugged my dad real tight that morn, my heart was set to burst
cause never had I thought to put another’s feelings first.
Sometimes the chores seem easy, like you’re guided from above;
I wasn’t milking cows that day, but showing dad my love.

© 2015 Mark Vincent
Public Domain Photo