Christmas Eve-Eve: Dec. 23 “The Hay’s All in the Barn.”

Merry Christmas from the Iles Clan.

I wish the very best for you and yours during this Christmas season.

Living Gratefully,




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From the Curt Iles book, Christmas Jelly.

The Hay’s in the Barn

It’s “Christmas Eve-Eve.”

Two days until Christmas. It’s close but there’s still time for planning and dreaming.

A strong cold front is blowing in as I arrive at Foreman’s Meat Market. Last night we were in shirtsleeves. By tonight it will be freezing.

Long vee formations of geese have been flying over all morning. They’re honking and struggling against the humid south wind being pulled toward the cold front.

Foreman’s is a busy place in the week leading up to Christmas. Customers are gassing up or buying meat for family gatherings. Others are picking up deer sausage.

The first drops of rain come from the darkening sky, and then the bottom drops out. A flatbed truck, loaded high with round bales of hay, skid into the parking lot. Three cowboys fall out of the truck and hurriedly begin pulling out a blue tarp over the hay.

They tell me they’re bound for Lake Charles. The wind is now turning out of the north whipping their tarps. They tie down their load and roar south.

Today is a good day to make sure the hay is in the barn. This common rural saying refers to finishing a task by a certain deadline.

The hay’s in the barn. The good feeling resulting from doing all you can do. You’ve done a hard job and done it well.

It’s a good feeling.

Back at Foreman’s parking lot, the rain is arriving in sheets. I’ve got one more trip to town before Christmas. My hay is not quite all in the barn . . . there are a few more presents to buy.

When Dry Creekers say, “I’m going to town” they mean DeRidder. A neighbor’s friendly  “I’m going to town. Do you need anything?” is a common question.

Super Wal-Mart. I dread going in there on this crazy shopping day.

I talk my youngest son, Terry, into going with me. I bribe him with the idea of a burger and fries. That’s the best way to get a rural boy to go into DeRidder—let him drive and promise him something to eat.

Driving the twenty-five miles to town, the rain pours down. As we pass Bundick Lake, the whitecaps are surging, pushed by the strengthening north wind.

The Wal-Mart parking lot is full. We park out near the highway and hurry in. The rain has stopped and the air has turned much colder. Shoppers, many lightly dressed, scurry in and out of the store.

Like me, the shoppers haven’t quite got all of their hay in the barn. I recall Uncle Bill telling of Christmas Eve at a K Mart in Lake Charles. He said the hurry, frustration, and impatience of these last minute desperate shoppers was something to behold.

I bet tomorrow night will be just that crazy at this Wal-Mart. I’d like to be brave enough one Christmas Eve to come observe it.

Terry and I split up and decide on a place to meet later. I wonder how long it will take as crowded as the store is. DeDe won’t hardly shop with me here because of how many people I visit with.

Today is different. Everyone’s in a hurry. Plenty of “Merry Christmases” abound combined with smiles and good-natured remarks. But there is little of the stop-and-visit normally found in the culture of Beauregard parish shopping.

And I know why: everyone here today is trying to get all of his or her hay in the barn.

After returning from town, I go to the cemetery and drain the water in the public restrooms. I re-check all of the pipes and faucets at our home as well as The Old House.

It’s dark now and the temperature continues to drop. This will be one of the coldest Christmas’s in a long time.

But I’m fine. I’ve got my hay in the barn.

Before going to bed, I decide to make a personal “hay in the barn” list:

  • I want to be full of gratitude at this special time of the year. I want to thank God for each and every blessing.
  • I want to enjoy my family. What a gift family is. As my family grows and leaves the nest, I’m reminded to cherish each precious moment.
  • I want to spread good cheer. I’m reminded that Christmas is often the toughest time of the year for folks. I want to call, write, and check on them.
  • I want to make sure there is no unforgiveness in my life. Are there any walls that need breaking down? What better time of the year than now!
  • I will seek to live the regret-free life. I want a minimum of “should’ve and could’ves.”

Closing my journal, I crawl in bed.

I sleep great that night.

I should.

The hay’s all in the barn.

Merry Christmas,


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