HAPPY HOLIDAYS - In 1979 I met Ben Bufford. He was my freshman English teacher at Madera High School. I had never had a teacher like him. Though like with many of my teachers at the time, this student squandered the opportunity to learn from one of Madera’s finest educators. While we stayed in contact throughout my four years as a Coyote, we lost touch after my graduation and his retirement.
We reconnected in the 90's at the Madera Drive In Swap Meet. This is where I learned more about my former teacher, like he was also a member of the Freemasons. On Sunday’s at the swap meet we would talk about the lodge, which I was going through my degrees in Scottish Rite, and his degree work in Arkansas.
A few years later we would reconnect again and to his surprise I was writing for Madera Online. Ben enjoyed reading the site and correcting my many typos. This is when he offered this poem to be published on the website for the Christmas season. Ever since that first Christmas “Molly’s Christmas” has been a yearly feature on Madera Online and now Big Valley News.
So it is with great pleasure we present Ben F. Bufford's Molly’s Christmas.
by Ben F. Bufford
New snow was falling, outside was quite cold,
and a black furry puppy cried in the snow.
Little Molly McGee, who had just turned four,
got out of her bed and hurried to the door.
She let in her puppy and peeked at her tree,
but not one gift anywhere could poor Molly see.
Walking back sadly, Molly climbed into bed,
hugging her puppy, in the darkness she said:
Christmas, dear Earl, is only one night away
and I'd wished for just one thing on Christmas Day,
but Dad is out of work, we're poor, you can see,
do you think that Santa Claus has forgotten me?
Giving Gozmer a kiss and squeezing his hand,
Mrs. Claus said, Gozmer, that's a beautiful plan.
But that is impossible! She then exclaimed,
unless...unless...Oh, my, do let me explain:
You've worked hard all summer, it's now Christmas Eve,
don't you want to kick back and rest up with ease?
I simply can't ask you, my dear little elf,
to do bigger jobs that I can do myself.
Why, dear Mrs. Claus, Gozmer laughingly said,
if one child's unhappy, we can't go to bed.
Then do what you must, while I make us some tea,
chuckled Mrs. Claus while she danced pleasantly.
So the elves went to work and before midnight,
the dolly they made was a perfect delight.
Gozmer was excited, so pleased with himself,
and Mrs. Claus shared snow-tea with each little elf.
Santa was snoozing by the fire in his chair,
but Mrs. Claus awoke him by fluffing his hair.
What is it, Mrs. Claus? Now what do you want?
To wake me without cause is one thing you don't!
While you were out delivering, Mrs. Claus said,
my contact with Molly went suddenly dead,
but I heard the word dolly, then nothing more,
and the right kink of dolly was not in our store.
So the elves and Gozmer have worked hard all night,
you reindeers are waiting to whisk you from sight.
I know you are tired, but for Gozmer and me,
please put this dolly under poor Molly's tree.
Molly who? Molly who? Santa yawned and sneezed.
I stopped everywhere on the list you gave me.
Molly McGee, you remember, Mrs. Claus laughed.
Now lace up your boots while I zip up your pack.
I am on my way now to Molly McGee's,
but keep the light burning for me if you please.
And Santa was gone like a wind-caught thistle
arriving at Molly's before you could whistle.
Sure enough, not a gift was on Molly's tree,
and Santa was sad as only Santa can be.
I will soon change that, Santa said with a smile,
removing from his pack that very special doll.
Quickly up the chimney, Santa dashed away
with his work all done, he relaxed in his sleigh.
Just then Molly awoke, saw the snow outside,
but rushed to her tree with Earl at her side.
Oh, look at my dolly in satin and bows,
and hear her laugh, Earl, when I wiggle her toes.
Oh, look, dear Earl, look! There are other gifts, too-
Why, a box of dog biscuits, all just for you.
At home in North Pole, Santa dropped into bed
and while sipping their hot snow-tea, Mrs. Claus said:
I love you, dear Santa, so does the whole world,
here's Christmas cheer to you, to Molly and Earl.
Ben Bufford was born August 19, 1922 in Jamestown, Arkansas to parents James Walter Bufford and Henrietta Manuel Bufford. He was baptized into the Baptist Church in Paragould, Arkansas.
He graduated with a BS degree from Arkansas College. He also received his first masters' degrees from Memphis State University. In addition he received a second masters degree from California State University at Fresno. He taught at Jonesboro High School, Jonesboro, Arkansas for five years. He also taught English for 30 years at Madera High School before retiring.