Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, author Xavier Garza knows a thing or two about living on the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s how he knew the stretch of land was far too large for just one gift-delivering fellow to cover on a single hallowed night. “Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid” is the story of Santa Claus’ primo Pancho, who spends Christmas Eve traveling along the Rio Grande with his sidekick Vincent to help Santa complete his deliveries all around the world.
Listen to Garza read from his book in the player above.
“It’s the night before Christmas, and a boy named Vincent is getting ready for bed. He’s spending Christmas Eve with his Tío Pancho in their old family farm near the U.S.-Mexico border. He’s tired from milking the cows and feeding the chickens and all the things a little boy has to do to help out at the farm. But as soon as he shuts his eyes, he hears footsteps up on the roof.
“Who’s up there?” he hears his Tío Pancho yelling. Vincent looks out the window just in time to see that his uncle is climbing up a ladder. Vincent puts on his boots and runs outside quietly, very quietly, because he doesn’t want his uncle to know that he is there.
He follows him up the ladder.
¡Ay! Vincent has to cover his mouth to keep from screaming. His uncle is up on the roof talking to Santa Claus, who he recognizes because of his big, fluffy white beard and his big, round pancha.
“Cousin Santa Claus!” Tío Pancho cries.
They give each other a great, big abrazo. Vincent is stunned. “My Uncle Pancho and Santa Claus are primos, are cousins, but how can this be?” he wonders.
“I need your help, primo,” says Santa Claus. “The border along the Rio Grande is too long for an old man like me, especially when I need to deliver presidents to every single corner of the world. Can you help me?”
Tío Pancho frowns. “Would I have to wear a red and white suit like you?” he asks.
“Not even,” answers Santa Claus. “You can wear that Mariachi outfit you wore in your singing days.”
“But I was a lot younger then, and thinner too!” Tío Pancho says. “I put on just a little bit of weight, primo.”
“Never mind that,” says Santa Claus. He grabs Tío Pancho’s hand and in the blink of an eye, they slip down the chimney together like magic.
As the story progresses, Uncle Pancho and his nephew Vincent deliver presents to all the kids who live along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Do you live near the border between Texas and México? Well, don’t be surprised if you happen to look up to the sky one Christmas Eve night and see a wagon being pulled by a pack of flying burritos, all wearing lucha libre masks. If you happen to listen closely, you might even hear Charro Claus and his side kick Tejas kid call out to you:
“Merry Christmas, and ¡Feliz Navidad!”
Written by Rachel Zein.