Alert! Texas Has Its Own Version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

Perri Ormont Blumberg
·3-min read

Lone Star State residents, if you're looking to switch up your holiday traditions this year, do we have the book for you. As we recently learned from the team over at Wide Open Country, author James Rice wrote and illustrated a festive riff on Clement Clarke Moore's classic 19th century poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, geared to delight Texans during the holiday season.

Rice's version was published in 1981 and tells quite the Texan tale. In Texas Night Before Christmas ($16.63 on Amazon Prime for the hardcover), Santa's reindeers are swapped for "a team of Longhorns," and "Santa arrives at a sod shanty and drops down the chimney to fill the young'uns' boots with toys."

The celebrated Southern children's illustrator and Texas native brings a vivid story to life for elementary schoolers in this 32-page tome that's sure to make a smile grace older kids' and adults' faces, too. Per the book's inside flap, expect a lot of exciting action: "On a dark winter’s eve in the midst of a fierce storm, a poor Texas family hunkers down in their sod shanty. When what should appear but Santy Claus in a wagon pulled by eight scruffy longhorns whose very colorful names give a hint to their contrary natures." What unfolds next? "After crash-landing Santa’s wagon, the longhorns wreak havoc in this fun Christmas adventure," the blurb continues, fittingly noting that this Santa is "so endearing he could charm the spines off a cactus."

WATCH: These Texans Share Their Love of Baking With a Southern Living Cake Club

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This group might be the inspiration you need to form a sit-and-sample-awhile chapter of your own.

There's a slew of other books in Rice's "Night Before Christmas" series including two more that are right up our alley, or shall we say, bayou. First up, there's Cajun Night Before Christmas ($13.83 on Amazon Prime for the hardcover) published in 1992, which takes place in Louisiana, of course, featuring Santa and his skiff full of toys pulled along by "eight friendly flying alligators." Then, published in 2004 is Ozark Night Before Christmas ($10.36 on Amazon for the hardcover), in which "Santy's arrival by johnboat is announced by a ruckus between his pet raccoon and Paw's coonhound" along with Maw, a young boy, and dog Arkansaw.

Need more Christmas reads? For the grown-ups in your life, we're a huge fan of The Golden Girls 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and these 30 amazing Christmas novels to read all winter long.

But back to the eve-before-Christmas land—and to lift a line from Ozark Night Before Christmas, "'Twere Christmas Eve an' mist a-crept off the crick / An' the col' winner drizzly was a-comin' down thick"—Rice's yarns seem like just the Southern Christmas spirit we all need right now.