The Night Before Christmas….      

By Jim


They stood there together, the two of them.  They stood in the gloom of the room, next to the big bed, and watched the tubes and the wires, and listened to the slow beep of the monitor. 

“Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?” he asked. 

She sighed… “Yes…they can’t help him any more at the hospital.  Doc says all we can do now is pray, and we can do that just as well here as in some cold hospital room.” 

He reached out and touched the thin arm. “He’s so small…so helpless.” 

She reached out and smoothed the still brow.  “Yes,” she said.  “Yes.” 

Now the scene changes, and things get brighter…and much noisier. 

“ELVES!” he roared.  “ELVES!  Number One! To the front!” 

The desk was trashed.  A huge clutter of unwrapped presents, Computer printouts, boxes and decorations overflowed from nearby tables.  The sound of hammers, the click of staplers, of paper tearing and off in the background a high-pitched voice was singing “You better watch out...” 

“Number One!  How’s the list coming?” 

“Nearly done, big guy.  I had to add extra memory to your Palm Pilot.” 

“Ok.  Don’t forget to coordinate it to the map.” 

“Yeah,” Number One snickered… “I’d hate for you to get lost…again.” He quickly ducked the candy cane coming his way, and ran off to finish his job. 

“Number Two, How’s the sleigh?” 

“Really fine.  The paint job’s real sweet, and the new heater should keep even your buns warm.”

Santa signed.  “What does a guy have to do to get some respect around here?  How about you, Number 3?  How are the reindeer? 

Number Three smiled shyly, her pixie face all lit up with her chance to brag about her charges.  “Rudolph’s nearly slept it all off.  He got in late, but he should be ready.  He takes that red nose SERIOUSLY.” 

“Yeah” Santa grumbled.  “How about Dancer and Vixen?” 

“Her maternity leave doesn’t start till March.  She’ll do fine.  And Dancer’s pretty much over the shock.” 

“And Cupid and Donner?” 

“Don’t ask, Santa,” she said primly,  “And I won’t tell.” 

Another whirl of lights and music, and the scene changes again.  Sassy is lying on the mantle, gently observing her rowdy kittens below… 

She’s thinking what a fine bunch this litter is, all six of them.  All of them so nice, so polite except for CRASH! Freckles. 

What did he do this time?  She watches as he bats around the ornament he wrestled from the tree and sighs as he knocks it beneath the couch…with all the others.  The tree will be absolutely bare by Christmas. 

She leaps lightly from the mantle, and curls up beneath the tree.  She calls softly to her babies, and all of them come running and cuddle with her as she kisses and purrs. 

Now where did we leave old St. Nick? 

ON Dancer! ON Prancer! Powered by eight mighty reindeer the sleigh leaps into the frigid Artic air.  Streaking south.  First the Igloos!  Then the scattered ranch houses, the hunting camps…then the first of the cities.  Just a blur of red sleigh and reindeer. 

Check the List!  Check it twice!  Candy for Susie…A whistle for Bobbie…Swish…Zoom! 

And how about the sad little room where we started? 

 She hung a stocking on the end of his bed.  “There darling, Now Santa can leave you some goodies.” 

He turned his head away.  He wasn’t in the mood for Christmas.  He wasn’t in the mood for Joy.  He wasn’t in the mood for anything. 

And our sleeping kitties? 

Sassy started at the sound of a thump! In the fireplace.  Her eyes opened wide as the chubby fat little man darted out and ran over to the glass of milk and cookies.  Then he saw her, and smiled. 

He quickly munched the cookies, and put the saucer down, and carefully filled it with milk.  Six hungry kittens surrounded it, and slowly he kept pouring the milk, staying ahead of their appetites.  Then he opened the large bag he was carrying, and filled the stockings hung before the chimney. 

“Hey, what’s this” he exclaimed, looking at the little stockings that extended past the bigger ones.  One said Sassy, and then there were six tiny ones.  Chuckling, he went back to the bag, rummaged around, and put a toy mouse in each stocking. 

He quickly patted Sassy on the head, then up the chimney and in a whirl, out into the night…Reindeer, bag and all. 

And our sad little guy? 

“You have to sleep now, or Santa won’t come.”  He doesn’t care. 

And Santa? 

On through the night!  On Comet!  On Cupid!  Down the chimney!  Running late!  Grab a toy for the stocking! 
“What the hell?” 

Santa looks at Freckles.  Freckles looks at Santa.  “Where did you come from?”  A quick look at the Palm Pilot.  “Nope.  No kitten here.  He wanted skates.  What to do…What to do”.  He put Freckles back in the bag and grabbed the skates.  Up into the night!  “I gotta get you back to Sassy…but it’ll have to wait till later…” 

Now he’s standing in the gloomy room, his heart wrenched by the sight of the sleeping boy.  “Oh my…Oh my”.  There was nothing on the list.  He left a GI Joe and a package of Crayons and a coloring book…good generic choices that in his heart, he knew wouldn’t help.  Up the chimney!  Into the night!  Slower.  Sadder. 

And Sassy? 

Remember, cats can’t count.  She thought maybe something was wrong, but she didn’t know what.  She looked up at the thump, looked up at the fat little man standing before her. 

“I can’t find him Sassy.  I looked everywhere.  He was in the bag.  I swear, I looked, but I can’t find him.” 

Sassy purred and licked the soft fingers that stroked her head.  Sadly, he sat there beside her.  Sadly he wondered where Freckles had gotten off to… 

And our sad little boy? 

They sat at the table…him with his coffee, her with her tea. 

“He’s probably awake now.  We probably should go wish him Merry Christmas.” 

With haunted eyes that knew there would be no Merry Christmas she rose and plodded across the house to the dark little room…

They open the door, and “MOMMY!  DADDY!  This is the best Christmas EVER! 

In mute wonder they watched the ball of fluff and spots try to pull the pajama string out and then close its eyes and purr as the boy clutched him to his bony, but happy chest. 

I guess it wasn’t such a bad Christmas after all…