‘Twas three nights before Christmas, and all along the coast,

The sea fog rolled in like a holiday ghost.

Zima, the dock dog, slept under the shed,

While most boat owners were home snug in their beds.

The TV weatherman predicts cold weather is near,

As the next Christmas of the Gulf Coast, soon will be here.

The boats were in their slips, both large and small,

No mass confusion here, like in a holiday mall.

Sounds in the boatyard were limited in number,

Hardly anything to rouse a tired skipper from his slumber.

The splash of a mullet, gleefully jumping,

The gurgle of bilge-pumps, occasionally pumping.

Wind gusts rattle the tin roof and whistle around pilings,

As the boats converse, without cell phones or dialing.

They talk to each other in quiet murmurs and moans,

And to old special friends, who call the marina their home.


Relaxing in a deck chair, dressed warm against the chill,

The glow of a cigar and a cup of holiday good will.

The smoke rings I blow soon disappear on the breeze,

But that doesn’t matter, they can be replaced with ease.

As I listen to the conversations of the boats in the night,

At the end of the dock, speckled trout feed under the light.

Alligator gars crashing bait with noisy haste,

While coyotes yelp and howl in the midst of their chase,

Help to remind, as the night slips away,

That we’re comin’ up hard,

On a special holiday.


Inside, the cabin all was warm and cozy,

The popcorn was salty, the wine nice and rosey.


new jigs hung on rods with care,

In hopes that fishing season, soon would be here.

Visions of sugarplums were replaced on this night,

With images of tarpon and blue marlin in fight.

Photos of big fish hang on bulkheads of polished wood,

Proving that passengers on this vessel have at least

Sometimes been good.


My lady and I, bundled up warm and tight, had retired to our Bunk,

For a pre-Christmas night,

When from out on the dock there came such a clatter,

I pulled on some clothes to go see what was the matter.

Imagine my surprise, to find on the pier,

No red-coated gnome, no tiny reindeer,

Not even a sneak thief, caught in the act,

Just a little calico cat, in search of a snack.


As I pulled off my boat shoes and put up my gun,

And laid a soft kiss on the cheek of my Hon,

I reflected on the season, and what it meant to me.

Not in monetary value, – the feelings should be free.

It shouldn’t be about how much we can afford to spend.

(What joy that brings is cancelled by worrying when the payments will end!)

I don’t even think it’s about religion much anymore,

But a time to look back on the past year, and wonder

What the New Year has in store.

A time to be with family and friends, celebrate with love

And caring,

But small celebrations are special, too, with those whose love

We’re sharing.

And please, don’t forget your boats!


“Well, what do you think?”

“Not too bad, Skipper.  Looks like you was a poet, an’ I didn’t even know it!  Kinda strayed from the original story line of the “Night Before Christmas” in a few places, though, but I guess that’s OK.”

“I didn’t want to be accused – in court or otherwise – or stealing ideas too brazenly.  Besides, you kept passing me those cups of Christmas cheer ‘til I had a little trouble focusing on my original intent.”

“See, you should have let me help more.”

“Six-Pack, I put in your line about not forgetting the boats.”

“Yeah, but I had some more good ideas.  Wisht you had checked with me before you wrote that thing about Christmas presents, too.  You left out the most versatile gift you can give a fisherman – plenty of jigs!  Not only are they one of the best all ‘round fishin’ lures, but they make excellent ear rings.”


“Yep.  Self piercin’, too.  The only kind a real man should be caught wearin’.  I’ve had this here one on since we took those gas company executives out last summer an’ got into all those little dolphin.”

“As fishermen, they were a bit wild and inexperianced, I guess.”

“To say the least.  Damn lucky I didn’t end up with a nose ring, too – but you won’t catch me complainin’!”


This Merry Christmas wish was from a past life, when I was a skipper and fisherman – but the feelings are still relevant, I think. Merry Christmas to all our readers, my family, and to friends from the marinas as well as the woods!.


About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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