Joshua Stoddard tightened his gloved hands around the saddle horn and leaned forward. He slowly dismounted and plowed the ranches entrance gate open through the Idaho snow drift. Closing it behind him, he decided to walk the mare the rest of the way to the ranch house. It was Christmas eve and he was finally home.
It had been over a year since he left. He vowed to return with enough money to save the family ranch. His trail worn clothing announced to all he’d met that he, like most Cowboys, had let his monthly ‘forty and found’ wages slip through his fingers instead of saving some for a rainy day.
As evenings blue light descended upon the snow blanketed ranch, Joshua stepped onto the porch. The interiors lamps cast their yellow glow through the frosted windows. As he raised his hand to knock, the door was suddenly jerked open and staring out at him with shocked faces was his family.
“Josh!” His sister shouted as she flung her arms around him, “You’re back… And just in time for Christmas too!”
After everyone settled down, Joshua’s mother brought him hot coffee and a plate of pie. Seeing the ragged condition of her son, she hid her disappointment nor did she ask him how he had fared. Still, she had been so sure that her prayers were going to be answered that her letdown was heartbreaking.
Shifting uneasily, Josh began speaking, “Mom, it was a hard year, I did three cattle drives and…”
Stopping Joshua in mid sentence his father placed his hand on his sons shoulder. “No need to tell us anymore son, it’s just good to have you back home”.
“But Dad, there is.” He exclaimed.
Removing his worn coat he tore open the lining. Hundreds of dollars cascaded onto the floor.
“I saved every cent I made Pa!”
We all say that Christmas is a time for giving. But as the Stoddard family found, it’s also a time for answered prayers. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! Your pard, JW Edwards