Christmas at the Ranch
4.25 x 7, 64 pp.
6 B&W Illustrations.
Pub Date: 07/17/2003
Texas Heritage Series
Price:        $14.95


Published by State House Press

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Christmas at the Ranch

By Elmer Kelton
Foreword by Walt McDonald
Illustrations by H. C. Zachry

“We four Kelton boys were rich. It was not because we had money, for we didn’t. Money was always a short commodity in the 1930s and early 1940s. We were rich because we got to do for free what many people would have been glad to pay good money for, to live on a ranch with horses and cattle and cowboys.”

So begins Elmer Kelton’s story about what Christmas was like on a ranch in far West Texas during the Great Depression. Actually, he experienced Christmas on two ranches—the one where his father was foreman, and the one his paternal grandfather operated. His grandparents’ home lacked electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, but it was full of cousins, delicious food, and a warm glow that reflected more than just the heat generated by the pot-bellied stove in the living room.

This heart-warming little book includes accounts of Kelton’s last Christmas at home before shipping out for war in Europe, his first Christmas after the war, and a special Christmas in Austria more than thirty-five years later. Families will want to read this book together and then share their own experiences about the “good old days,” however they are defined.

ELMER KELTON of San Angelo has written more than forty novels, including The Time It Never Rained and The Good Old Boys, which was made into a TV movie starring Tommy Lee Jones. The Western Writers of America in 1995 named him the greatest Western author of all time, and he has received numerous lifetime achievement awards and honorary doctorates. He also wrote My Kind of Heroes (State House Press, 2004).

H. C. ZACHRY is an Abilene artist, businessman, and civic leader.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Elmer Kelton can write. . . . He writes with grace and style, and in this book with great passion. . . . My [family] will receive copies of the book for Christmas." --Paul H. Carlson, WTHA Year Book

"Highly recommended. . . . a beautiful gift for good family reading." --Review of Texas Books

"The best new title from McWhiney." --Judy Alter

"This slender volume captures holiday poignancy worth reading any time of the year." --Southwest Book Views

“Because there were always little ones who still had faith in Santa Claus, we got up on Christmas morning to see what gifts had been left during the night. The toys were modest by today’s standards because a dollar in those Depression times looked as big as a saddle blanket. But we were conditioned not to expect too much and to take pleasure in whatever we received.”—from the book What people are saying about this book ". . . with its reflective Western voice, [it] will become a classic." --Victoria Advocate

"Reading these memoirs, one easily can see why the Western Writers of America named Kelton their best writer, ever." --East Texas Historical Journal

"If you are looking for a Christmas gift for your favorite cowboy, you're looking at it right now." --Texas Illustrated Magazine

"His little book is a wise one because it recognizes that the real wealth is life." --Rena Peterson


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