Merry Christmas, And Billy Peeble, One More Time

It’s Saturday of Christmas weekend, and it feels like it’s Christmas Eve. If it seems like Christmas falling on a Monday (and Christmas Eve on a Sunday) seems unusual, it’s because it hasn’t happened for a while.  Because of a quirk in the calendar (a few leap years) we’ve gone 11 years without a Monday Christmas, the last one happening in 2006. And since it feels like Christmas Eve, we’re going to open presents at our house tonight. Well, actually, we’re doing it because we’re getting up early tomorrow morning and heading to a cabin in the Black Hills for a few days, and we don’t want to haul them down there. And our dear Chelsea arrives home this afternoon after almost four months in Colorado, learning to be a dog groomer, so we want to celebrate anyway.

So I’m going to put the computer away for a few days and drift back to Christmas days of old. With family. Lots of family. And before I go, I’m going to share one more time my favorite James W. Foley Christmas poem. I know, I know, I do this every year, but hey, its MY blog and I can put whatever I want here. And you don’t have to read it every year. But if you don’t, you lose. Because it embodies the humanity of Christmas. So here’s Billy Peeble’s story, one more time.


By James W. Foley

(From The Book of Boys and Girls)

Billy Peeble he ain’t got no parents—never had none ‘cause

When he was borned he was an orfunt; an’ he said ‘at Santa Claus

Never didn’t leave him nothin’, ‘cause he was a county charge

An’ the overseer told him that his fambly was too large

To remember orfunt children; so I ast Ma couldn’t we

Have Bill Peeble up to our house, so’s to see our Christmas tree.

An she ast me if he’s dirty; an’ I said I guessed he was,

But I didn’t think it makes no difference with Santa Claus.


My his clo’es was awful ragged! Ma, she put him in a tub

An’ she poured it full of water, an’ she gave him such a scrub

‘At he ‘ist sit there an’ shivered; and he tol’ me afterwurds

‘At he never washed all over out to Overseer Bird’s!

‘An she burned his ragged trousies an’ she gave him some of mine;

My! She rubbed him an’ she scrubbed him till she almost made him shine,

Nen he ‘ist looked all around him like he’s scairt for quite a w’ile

An’ even when Ma’d pat his head he wouldn’t hardly smile.


“En after w’ile Ma took some flour-sacks an’ ‘en she laid

“Em right down at the fireplace, ‘ist ‘cause she is afraid

Santa Claus’ll soil the carpet when he comes down there, you know

An’ Billy Peeble watcher her, an’ his eyes stuck out—‘ist so!

“En Ma said ‘at in the mornin’ if we’d look down on the sacks

‘At they’d be ‘ist full of soot where Santa Claus had made his tracks;

Billy Peeble stood there lookin’! An’ he told me afterwurds

He was scairt he’d wake up an’ be back at Overseer Bird’s.


Well, ‘en she hung our stockin’s up and after w’ile she said:

“Now you and’ Billy Peeble better get right off to bed,

An’ if you hear a noise tonight, don’t you boys make a sound,

‘Cause Santa Claus don’t never come with little boys around!”

So me an’ Billy went to bed, and Billy Peeble, he

Could hardly go to sleep at all—ist tossed an’ tossed. You see

We had such w’ite sheets on the bed an’ he said afterwurds

They never had no sheets at all at Overseer Bird’s.


So we ‘ist laid and talked an’ talked. An’ Billy ast me who

Was Santa Claus. An’I said I don’t know if it’s all true,

But people say he’s some old man who ‘ist loves little boys

An’ keeps a store at the North Pole with heaps an’ heaps of toys

W’ich he brings down in a big sleigh, with reindeers for his steeds,

An’ comes right down the chimbly flue an’ leaves ‘ist what you needs.

My! He’s excited w’en I tell him that! An’ afterwurds

He said that they never had no toys at Overseer Bird’s.


I’m fallin’ pretty near asleep w’en Billy Peeble said:

“Sh-sh! What’s that noise?” An’ w’en he spoke I sat right up in bed

Till sure enough I heard it in the parlor down below,

An’ Billy Peeble, he set up an’ ‘en he said: “Let’s go!”

So we got up an’ sneaked down stairs, an’ both of us could see

‘At it was surely Santa Claus, ‘ist like Ma said he’d be;

But he must have heard us comin’ down, because he stopped an’ said:

“You, Henry Blake and William Peeble, go right back to bed!”

My goodness, we was awful scairt! An’ both of us was pale,

An’ Billy Peeble said upstairs: “My! Ain’t he ‘ist a whale?”

We didn’t hardly dare to talk and got back into bed

An’ Billy pulled the counterpane clear up above his head,

An’ in the mornin’ w’en we looked down on the flour-sacks,

W’y sure enough we saw the soot where he had made his tracks.

An’ Billy got a suit of clothes, a drum, an’ sled an’ books

Till he ‘ist never said a word, but my, how glad he looks!


An’ after w’ile it’s dinner time an Billy Peeble set

Right next to Pa, an’ my! how he ‘ist et an’ et an’ et!

Till he ‘ist puffed an’ had to leave his second piece of pie

Because he couldn’t eat no more, an’ after dinner, w’y

Ma dressed him up in his new clo’es, an Billy Peeble said

He’s sorry he’s an orfunt, an’ Ma Patted Billy’s head.

W’ich made him cry a little bit, an’ he said afterwurds

Nobody ever pats his head at Overseer Bird’s.


An’ all day long Pa looked at Ma, an’ Ma she looked at him,

Because Pa said ‘at Billy looked a little bit like Jim

‘At was my brother, but he died oncet, years ago,

An’ ‘at’s why Billy Peeble makes my mother like him so.

She says ‘at Santa brought him as a present, ‘ist instead

Of little Jim ‘at died oncet. So she ‘ist put him to bed

On Christmas Night an’ tucked him in an’ told me afterwurds

‘At he ain’t never going back to Overseer Bird’s.




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