At Christmastime in the 1950s and 1960s, my family frequently visited my father’s brothers and sisters and they visited us. I never really thought of these family gatherings as holiday parties although, in retrospect, they probably were.
At these gatherings, one of the favorite pastimes of the adults was cribbage. Being the only children at these events, my sisters and I were expected to amuse ourselves as the adults played cards.
Back when he was in trade school, my father made a cribbage board, and it was this cribbage board that was used for the games held at our house. The pegs were intricately carved and the board itself practically glowed with the rich stain and glossy varnish with which my father finished the board. My father kept his cards and cribbage board in a locked drawer at the base of a small table next to his chair in the living room. Except for a small safe that contained important family documents, this drawer was the only place in the house that was ever locked.
While the adults played cribbage, my sisters and I would invariably get bored and hover around the card table, watching the adults. These efforts were often short-lived, since we would ask questions like, “Is it good that you have so many Aces?” and be promptly banished from the room.
But, as we grew older, my sisters and I would find ways to involve ourselves in the family gatherings by putting on impromptu shows: singing songs, lip-synching to 45s, and reciting poems. Our efforts were somewhat less than professional, but occasionally we would bring the house down.
On one particular Christmas, my older sister and I taught our younger sister a song, a variant on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”:
Randolph the redneck cowboy
Had a very shiny gun,
And if you ever saw it
You would turn around and run.
All of the other cowboys
Used to laugh and call him names.
They wouldn’t let poor Randolph
Join in any poker games.
Then one foggy Saturday Night
The Sheriff came to say,
“Randolph, with your gun so bright,
Won’t you lead my posse tonight?”
Then all the cowboys loved him
And they shouted out with glee
“Randolph the redneck cowboy,
You’ll go down in history!”
The only problem was that my sister stumbled on one of the lines. Instead of singing “Randolph, with your gun so bright, Won’t you lead my posse tonight?”, she sang “Randolph, with your gun so bright, Won’t you shoot my wife tonight?”.
Wherever did she get that line?
Written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Day 9.
Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko