Where else in the United States of America, or the world for that matter, does Santa arrive on a shrimp boat? Well, for sure he does that down Bayou Dularge in south Louisiana. As I watched the Christmas boat parade last night, I was once again reminded how unique the culture and way of life is down the bayou.
Mr. and Mrs. Santa can be seen in the photo below, riding on the stern of a shrimp boat, in all their red finery. The trip ends down at a local church building, where Santa gives gifts to the children while everyone eats hot gumbo. What a great tradition, no?
Below is something my twisted brain conjured up while I was photographing the boat parade one year. I posted it here then, but the readership was not what it is now. For those of you who read it then, I hope it can still bring a smile to your face. For all you new readers, I hope you know who Boudreaux and Thibodeaux are. If not, just Google them and you will see a plethora of jokes involving the two.
The poem is written in local bayou speak! Lest anyone think I am making fun of the local people, be they French, Cajun, or Native American, think again. The reason all the words that ordinarily begin with the “th” blend now start with a “d” is because there is NO “th” blend in the French language. This was established very early in my dating relationship with The Captain–between him and my father. My father picked on him so much, that before we drove up to north Louisiana for a visit, he had a T-shirt inscribed with this: I DO NOT PRONOUNCE WORDS WITH “TH” !
So, there you have it folks, straight from the local’s mouth! I hope the language does not detract from your enjoyment of the ongoing shenanigans of Boudreaux and Thibodeaux.
Bayou Christmas Eve
© WWBilliot 2009
‘Twas da night befo’ Christmas, and down de bayou
Not a creature was stirrin’, not even da rou garou.
Dem ol’ socks was hung on de porch wit a nail
In hopes dat St. Nick don’t mind da smell.
Da kids dey was sleeping all over de flo’
Like sardines in a can, dey can’t fit no mo’.
Mah old man in his easy chair and me on da sofa
Had jest settled down with a big cuppa coco.
When out on da water dey got such a noise
Me, I was afraid it would wake up dem boys.
Away to da bayou we run like two dogs,
Jumped out on da dock and stared tru da fog.
Dat fog was so tick, mais, we can’t see a ting;
And right after dat, we hear jingle bells ring.
We look and we look up da bayou and listen
And hear a big swoosh in da water and den
Wit our ears we could hear da hum o’ da motor;
“It’s just an ol’ a shrimp boat,” we say to each udder.
We turn from the water, head back to da do’
When all uh da sudden hear “Hey! Don’t y’all go!”
We turn back around, and look hard tru da mist
My ol’ man he say, “Mais, would you look at dis!”
On da back o’ dat boat a fat man in red suit
Wit big ol’ white whiskers and ol’ white shrimp boots;
He wave and he holler, “Hey y’all seen Boudreaux?
I got him a message from Ol’ Thibodeaux!”
Togedder we shout, “No, he ain’t been around,
And before you got here, we don’t hear a sound.”
He say, “I been callin’ and callin’ his house for a week
To come fix my boat; she gotta bad leak.”
Before we could answer, dere came a loud sound
Dat made every one of our heads turn around.
A boat came so fast, Bayou Santa he fell,
And da wake make his boat sink wit dat swell.
Da man in dat boat had a red suit, too, ya know,
And look mos’ familiar, kinda like ol’ Boudreaux.
He yell as he pass to the first Santa man,
“Be back aftuh while to give you a han’.
You sho’ should take better care uh ya boat,
So maybe next Christmas ya might stay afloat.”
His eyes how dey twinkle when he pass wit a shout
“Thibodeaux need a bucket to bail his boat out!”
While Thibodeaux Santa bailed his boat wit a boot,
Boudreaux went down da bayou to pass out da loot;
“Joyeaux Noel” he shouted, “My name is Boudreaux!
I’m a much better Santa dan ol’ Thibodeaux!
My boat is way faster, she don’t run aground.
She glows in da dark, Christmas lights all around!”
Thibodeaux had to hitch him a ride on a gator,
Yelled, “It ain’t over yet! I’ll sho’ be back later!”
Up da bayou he went as he fussed and he swore,
“I just can’t trust ol” Boudreaux any mo’.”
Each Christmas we tink dat dis might be da year
Dose two crazies make peace and share dem some cheer.
“Maybe next year”, my ol’ man say wit a smile,
“Dey bury dat hatchet and get along fo’ a while.”
We laugh at each udder and both shake our head,
Go back to da house and crawl into bed.
Way off in da distance, we hear a voice so light
“Mais, Joyeaux Noel to all, and to all a goodnight!”
PS: The use of “de” and “da” in place of “the” is akin to using “la” and “le” in French. It has to do with gender, and I just did what felt natural; but it’s all pronounced the same, like this: “duh” ! Have fun with it!