For the past four days, the Mystery Woman has been feeding about 20 of us, even though some of us brayed like jackasses. Come to think of it, seven of our crowd are certifiable jackasses.
We spent the holidays tending to my daughter's menagerie while she and her husband played Christmas in Baton Rouge with his relatives. That meant we had to feed and, at times, medicate three horses, seven donkeys, four sheep, seven dogs (five resident, one foster and one visitor) and six real people.
Note: we are all city people. Or were.
The learning curve made Mt. Everest look like a molehill but everybody pitched in with good cheer. High adventure on the edge of the Texas Hill Country.
The uncle from Seattle donned his rubber boots and mucked the horses like a professional shoveler. Well, he was born in Kingsville but moved out of state when he was a mere child.
Speaking of child, our resident child was officially in charge of feeding the sheep, which were almost as tall as she. The kid did a good job except she does have a better understanding of "fight or flight" because the sheep could get too, too close.
Somehow the mother from Miami managed to let Santa know we were at the ranch. But she had to assemble the last of the toys by her lonesome because the Mystery Woman was damned tired of all that fresh air and fell asleep. Me, too.
Our 87-year-old matriarch took it all in without breaking stride. She has seen Christmas before. But she did grin a whole lot. The grin was infectious.
One of mine managed to find his sister's ranch. He got here during a lull in the critter chores. When he left, it was with only some stuff on his shoes. And some laughter in his heart.
I was the official ice-breaker. No, seriously. Since I wake early, my job was to break through the ice in the horse troughs. And to make sure the inside dogs got outside in a hurry.
Throughout it all, the Mystery Woman maintained a serene approach handed down from her ancestors. We ate good.
And I think we have this Manger Thing down pat.
Hope you are having good holidays, too.