Farmer and Flying Cows Pitch in for Santa and His Reindeer in Charming Christmas Tale

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"There once was a Christmas when Santa was sick, He needed a substitute -- who did he pick?" A midwestern farmer and his 12 flying dairy cows deliver the Christmas gifts in this heartfelt tale.

May All Your Christmases be Black & White

Six years before anyone ever heard of “Santa Cows” and 10 years before Tim Allen became a substitute “Santa Clause” in the movies, there was a little self-published book by a Minnesota author about a kindly old farmer and his 12 cows who had to deliver the Christmas gifts for Santa and his reindeer one eve.

That book, “Mr. Gonopolis And His 12 Holsteins – A Christmas Story” is back in a 20th anniversary edition with all new full-color illustrations by its original author and artist, Uncle Hyggly. The book, and an audio CD version, are available at the author’s Web site at or through

A simple Christmas gift

The story started as a simple homemade Christmas gift for Hyggly’s six nephews and nieces. He always teased them that “Santa isn’t coming this year -- he’s got a cold and is sending some old farmer on his rounds instead. But the farmer doesn’t bring toys -- all he brings is underwear and socks.”

Hyggly said the story never failed to fill his nephews and nieces with giggles, so one Christmas he decided to write and illustrate a few homemade copies as gifts under their Christmas trees. They excitedly took those copies to school to show friends when Christmas break was over, and soon grassroots demand led him to publish the book.

Told in clever verse, with vibrant illustrations, Hyggly has been called by some a "rural Dr. Seuss" and a review in a Chicago newspaper described his book as a "Lake Wobegon version of the Night Before Christmas."

Book captures true meaning of Christmas

The book is steeped in rural values, such as honesty and helping out a friend in need. Although Gonopolis doesn’t get Santa’s instructions on delivering the Christmas gifts quite right (in fact, he really botches them up), everything works out for the best as he discovers the true spirit of Christmas isn’t the gifts themselves, it’s the gift of caring, Hyggly said.

“Several elementary schools have adapted the story into a Christmas pageant,” Hyggly said, citing schools from Hibbing, Minnesota to Annapolis, Maryland. “The heart in the story, and the colorful characters that inhabit it, make it easy to adapt the story to other forms,” Hyggly added, pointing out that the audio CD version of the tale will be playing on radio stations nationwide this Christmas.

The audio version, with Minnesota composer/performer George Maurer, features new songs including "May All Your Christmases be Black & White," and narration by the author to sound effects and character voices.

For more information on the book and CD, visit the Web site at or the online store directly at

Editor's note:

Review copies available, e-mail us or call 952-223-1247.

Audio CD sample available at
Read the first 16-pages online at

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Charles Smith-dewey
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