Christmas calf

I happen to glimpse it
before the parade

plodding along
behind glitter-bright floats
and antique cars
and draft horses
hitched to a buggy, stomping
their silky feathered feet

a lone calf
wearing a Santa hat
and a red gingham wrap
decorated with tinsel.

Something in its demeanor
makes me pause.

I think it’s humility.

Head bowed
in its bright-red halter

being led
to take its place
on the hay-strewn float
sponsored by its stable.

I watch the calf
standing, waiting
(for what, it must have wondered
or maybe it didn’t question at all,
but only trusted)

and I remember phrases
in a book I loved
when I was a child:
the sweet breath of patient cows

a sort of peaceful smell as though
nothing bad could happen
ever again in the world

and that’s exactly the feeling I get
for one fleeting moment
looking at this Christmas calf

standing completely at peace
in what surely must seem
chaos, cacophony,
and absurd carnival color.

And so I step over
just before the parade

to absorb its calm
to look into its big, gentle eyes
to read its docile expression.

He lets me pet him
and scratch behind
his big black ear

his hair is thick
like a rug

he is warm
so warm

—You are beautiful,
I say.

The Christmas calf
so still
and sweet

gives me an almost
imperceptible nod

his two tiny horns
poking through his Santa cap

not knowing
the simple
pure and deep
sense of reverence
he somehow imparts.

I cannot help thinking,
Lord, let me be
as good
and uncomplaining
and patient
a creature.

Such a gentle calf. The owners invited me to pet him.
He is a year old.

with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life Writing Challenge

7 thoughts on “Christmas calf

  1. Fran. your Charlotte’s Web quote that came to you in that moment happens to me from time to time also – my line that rushes forth comes often as I see parents tighten reins on their children – it’s where Fern and Avery are swinging in the barn –

    children always hold on to things more tightly than their parents think

    and that sense of safety and trust in the world is rooted so deeply in the pages of children’s books. I love how you flashed back to that line.

    And that calf in all the absurdity! Now you have me wondering about how my Schnoodles must feel every time I put a sweater or Halloween costume on them – do they practice this patience and unconditional love for me even as I treat them like the cute human people I see within each of them? I think so.
    As always, you make us think with your way of looking at the world.

    Was this the Zebulon NC parade? The Zebulon GA parade is this Saturday. Come watch with me! I’ll be watching for patience in the chaos.

    I do love the photos – what a great shot of that eye!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love how you honed in on the precious calm and humility of this calf, and I am once again reminded how much we can learn from animals…these lines are gorgeous, I think:
    “a lone calf
    wearing a Santa hat
    and a red gingham wrap”
    The pictures are fabulous!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the way you’ve crafted this moment – a calf: calm, docile, staid, right in the middle of hoopla and excitement. It’s such a thoughtful and purposeful think to notice. Which is to say, it’s absolutely, completely, 100% FRAN. You’ve got me thinking that probably, somewhere, in the middle of every chaotic situation, we might be able to allow ourselves to find the one thing that could bring us calm and peace. I’m going to carry that with me today. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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