Bayou Christmas Eve!
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!
LOL! This was great. 🙂
Thanks, Sweet Pea!
I enjoyed reading it again! Curious though…How many of you Not from La. have to read it several times for the dialog to make sense?
What kind of Gumbo did y’all have? I’ll be making some Turkey and Andouille Gumbo for Christmas Day. We decided to scrap our “regular” holiday menu since Christmas falls on a Sunday. The adults will come home from church starving …so, just a few minutes on High and we’ll be eating. (The grandchildren will eat only because they know they have to before opening gifts.)
Sunday is a tough day for our family to have a gathering, so we won’t. Both MuzicMan and Dotter have to do 2 services on Christmas Eve and then the music on Sunday morning, so basically, (like a pastor) they are working on Christmas. Your menu is a great idea! Lots of folks here will have gumbo on Sunday–either chicken and sausage or seafood. Do you think I should re-write it with proper grammar and spelling for those NOT from here?
I do love that poem. Steffi, I’m not from LA and I understood it with only one reading. But, I guess I could say I cheated a bit since I watched Justin Wilson for years and the newer Swamp People shows. I also used to go to LA with family a couple of times a year for revivals.
Ha ha, love it, Cammy! Glad you breezed through it!
Wonderful poem – I’m going to be sure it gets passed on to some of my other bayou-livin’ and bayou-lovin’ friends.
I didn’t have any problem with it at all, but I’ve been around Cajuns since I started sailing and had to learn to understand the tug captains. In the beginning it was tough, I’ll grant you that! And I still can have trouble when I’m around folks who are Cajun and talk really fast!
Just found out today about the Christmas eve bonfires along the levee. Might have to look into that!
I’ve never seen the bonfires firsthand, but they always feature them on the news. You have to go to a more rural location, away from the city (I think) like St. James or St. Joseph Parishes to find a real community spirit about it. Now, there is a reader here who lives up that way, and if anybody could chime in right now and give us a brief history, it would be him! Where are you Goldie??? Oh, and please do pass the poem around.
They’re in Grammercy, La. VERY congested traffic on the River Road Christmas Eve. That is when they are lit for Papa Noel to find his way! I prefer going during the day the week of Christmas to see what the structures look like. Haven’t done it in a while though, and doesn’t look like this year will be any different We’re headed to Ms…be back on Wed. to catch up with y’all.
It’s a done deal – headed to Louisana on Friday morning – going to Plaquemine, down to check out the levee in between Lutcher and Gramercy, staying in Breaux Bridge.
A friend’s coming with me – we decided seeing the structures during the day was the thing to do. I really didn’t want to be driving roads i don’t know after dark with all the excitement going on – and I’ve seen a bonfire before. But there’s no telling what we’ll do or find – much better than sitting at home thinking about the past!
How exciting!!! And yes much better than sitting around thinking about the past. I love your spontaneity! So, where will you be Christmas day? In Breaux Bridge? LilSis and I love Breaux Bridge! I know y’all will pass a good time : )
Love the poem BW. I wish I could be with you when you read the poem because I think I would get so tickled. Love ya. Merry Christmas to you and yours down the bayou.
Well, when ya coming? I’ll read it for ya when ya get here, cher!!!
I thoroughly enjoyed the poem, and had no problem with the language. I guess Northern Michiganders are just very smart. 🙂 It was really cute!
Ha! You Michiganders ARE a smart lot–my mother was from southeastern part of the mitten, down on Lake Michigan in a beautiful little resort town called Ludington! Did you know that? She was of German and Danish descent, so that is where I got the blond hair and green eyes! (Don’t see too many Houma Indians or Cajuns down here that look like me!) Glad you enjoyed the story!
Ok so was it Houghton or Higgins lake where the family vacationed?
No ice here so thinking road trip up dere to the great white north.
I ventured to friend we ought to use her new hi tech kitchen to make gumbo on new year’s eve. and waiting for reply.
Merry to all you bayou dwellers.
Grandparents retired to Lake Hamlin, but I always hung out on the fake beach at Lake Michigan. Is that what your question refers to? Great white north? Where is that? Have fun in hi-tech kitchen and behave yourself. Merry merry to all you snow dwellers.
Ok, so maybe we need to start coming there for Christmas since we have no actual Christmas plans!
Come on down. Camp is open. I’ll give you a good rate for the four of you! Bryce and Jason can go duck hunting with Termite. Trout are biting. No Christmas tree, but hey, does that matter?
You are truly creative Wendy! I enjoyed it immensely!
Glad you did, Julie! Thanks!
This is priceless, BW! My goodness, I needed that laugh! Thank you!
Well, if ANYBODY could follow the story line it would be YOU, a grand storyteller in her own right! Thanks so much! And I’m happy to provide some Holiday Cheer up in West Virginia!
I loved your poem. Not only was it a fun story, but it was written in my own native tongue. 😀 I have been to similar parade once as a little girl and I can still remember the breathtaking sight of the lights on the boat reflecting in the water. I suspect the tradition of the Christmas boat parade is as near and dear to the people of Bayou Dularge as the bonfires on the levee on Christmas Eve are for those of us near the river.
Make a Roux – Welcome to this bayou! Could you maybe tell us a little more of what you remember/know about those bonfires? Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
Thanks for the warm welcome, Captain Wendy! As a little girl, my sister and I would look forward to watching the bonfires being built on BOTH sides of the Mississippi River. Families who live along the river will get a permit to build their bonfires, usually across the street from their houses. They cut down and haul trees and then start building the fires, adding cane reeds for a popping effect. The actual Festival of the Bonfires is held on the East bank (Gramercy) side a few wks before christmas. However, some families still wait to light their fires on Christmas Eve to light the way for Papa Noel. On Christmas Eve, you consider taking a drive up and down the the West bank side of the River Rd, which will not be as crowded (as everyone else goes to the East bank side).
I have many fond memories of eating gumbo and watching the fires at one of my friend’s houses in Lutcher, but we stopped going so much when it became a tourist hotspot.
So, clarify for all us directionally-challenged folks: Which town would be “west bank” and more likely to light fires on Christmas Eve?
Oops! Sorry about that! West bank is St. James, St. Phillip, Vacherie area. East bank is Lutcher and Gramercy. There are people on both sides who light fires on Christmas Eve. I think that most people, if they’ve heard of the bonfires at all, only know of them on the east bank in Lutcher and Gramercy. Therefore, there tends to be much less traffic on the west bank. However, I’m guessing there are fewer bonfires overall on the west bank, as there are fewer houses there. Never took an official count, though. 🙂
Well dat was a bee-yoo-tiful little ditty – grand merci, ma cher BW – and a very merry Yuletide & Bayou Christmas to ye, M. Le Capitan and all the family…give our regards to the “hallamagators” and all our wetlands mates too!