It’s Christmas Whether You Like it or Not

It’s Christmas Whether You Like it or Not

Nov 24, 2015

It’s Christmas Whether You Like it or Not

by Jeremy Evans
Seattle Area SDB Church

The badger dozed in his easy chair while a knot of lightwood blazed in the fireplace. Great flurries of snow swept across the countryside. Every once in a while, when an icy current whistled around the windowpanes, he rousted from his slumber and peeped through the window at the snow. Sometimes he would hear the jingle of harness bells and snatches of merry laughter as travelers shushed along in pony carts.

Bah, Christmas Eve. Everybody hurrying hither and yon, over hill and dale, off to one party or another. Thinking of merry-making, and nog-guzzling, and hall-decking gave the old badger a stomachache. No sir, he would never be caught at a Christmas Eve party, with all of the noise and fuss, for he was Emmanuel Grimsley, the grumpiest badger in the entire countryside. He had a reputation to uphold.

Just as Mister Grimsley had closed his peepers for a snooze, there came a sharp knock at the door. Good Heavens above, who would come knocking at this time of night? Feeling very put out, he hauled himself up and muttered all the way to the door. Whoever it was had to be the brazenest creature imaginable to come unannounced, a-ratta-tat-tattering upon his door like some kind of crazy woodpecker.

Mister Grimsley copy

The knock came again.

“Alright, alright,” muttered the badger.

As soon as he turned the knob, a wintry blast flung the door wide open. There on the porch stood a chipmunk grinning up at him.

“Merry Christmas, Mister Grimsley,” said the chipmunk. His little wool jacket and cap were dusted with snow and tiny icicles danced on the ends of his whiskers while he braced against the wind.

“What is it this time, Spunkmeyer,” grumbled the badger. “Alms for the penniless again?”

The chipmunk removed his cap reverently and explained, “Well Mister Grimsley, Sir, we’re on our way home after cutting down a Christmas tree and we got caught in the blizzard.”

Mister Grimsley glowered down at the little creature and wanted very much to tell him what a cotton-brained idea it had been to go out on a night like this, but he just grunted in an impatient sort of way instead.

The diffident little chap wished he could hide from the badger’s imposing eyebrows, the way they scrunched into a prickly frown. He began to fidget with his cap and ventured in a quavering voice, “We were hoping to come in from the cold until it lets up out here. The wife and kids have just about frozen into popsicles, Mister Grimsley, and — after all, it’s Christmas Eve.”

The badger looked from Spunkmeyer to the chipmunk family shivering in the pony cart. Then he heaved a great sigh of resignation and said, “Well don’t just stand there lolly-gagging, Spunkmeyer, stable the pony in the barn. There’s food in the pantry and cider in the keg.”

It wasn’t long before the Spunkmeyers settled in. Amelia Spunkmeyer staggered under a load of goodies from the pantry. Horace and Quagmire, the two chipmunk scamps, occupied themselves with a puzzle on the floor. And Mister Grimsley sat with Spunkmeyer by the fire, enduring stories about his work at the Mapleton Creamery. Before long they were interrupted by another knock at the door.

“I’ll get it!” shouted Spunkmeyer as he scampered across the room. He stretched up and turned the knob and a great gust blew open the door.

“Well bless me!” exclaimed a jolly voice. “If it isn’t Hezekiah Spunkmeyer!” A jovial mole named Henry Buttercup grinned broadly on the stoop. Beside him stood his wife Alice who was trying very hard to keep her wig

from flying away in the wind.

Mister Grimsley could see who it was from across the room and before he could object, Hezekiah had invited the Buttercups to stay. Soon their cart and pony were parked in the barn and a mouthwatering buffet of pumpkin pies, snicker doodles, jugs of eggnog and pots of honey were hauled into the den.

“Well it’s mighty neighborly of you to invite us in like this, Emmanuel,” said Mister Buttercup. The badger thought about saying he had not invited him in at all, but he held his tongue. “We were on our way to the Hollyhocks’ Christmas party,” he continued, “when our pony simply couldn’t trudge another step in the snow. We were going to turn back until we saw your lights on and decided to drop in.”

No sooner had the Buttercups hung up their coats and scarves than there came another knock at the door. Hezekiah opened the door again and cried, “Oh come in, come in. There’s plenty of room.” Before Mister Grimsley could stop them, 20 mice scurried in and assembled themselves in two rows in front of the fireplace. They were a family of mice who lived in a wheat field three miles away and they called themselves “The Wakefield Warblers.” They stopped in every year and he dutifully listened to their carols.

The fat daddy mouse played the accordion and others played tiny trumpets and horns. As the choir piped a lusty rendition of “Silent Night,” Mister Grimsley couldn’t help noticing the irony of the song. His night was anything but silent now that he had a houseful of interlopers to entertain. After the song, the choir disbanded

and raided the snack table.

Mr. Grimsley peeked through the window, wondering when the storm would let up. The snow was becoming so deep that no pony cart would make it more than a hundred yards before getting blown into a drift. Any hope of a quiet evening that lingered in his heart plummeted when he saw Spunkmeyer and Mister Buttercup trudging through the snow carrying a small Christmas tree from the barn.

The front door burst open and the two creatures erected the tree on a makeshift stand in the corner. “We’re snowed in, everybody,” announced Mister Buttercup. “Stoke up the fire and trim the tree. We are all going to spend Christmas together, friends!”

Hezekiah fixed a small candle to the top of the tree with some bailing wire and soon had a flame flickering beautifully.

Meanwhile, Mister Grimsley stood dumbfounded by the windowsill trying to take in all that was happening. One minute he’d been dozing by the fire all alone and the next minute, twenty-six brazen intruders possessed by the Christmas Spirit had converged upon his home. It was as if Christmas had descended upon him without warning. He took a sip of Alice Buttercup’s eggnog and something in it made his cheeks and the tops of his ears feel very warm. Not bad. And a piece of apple pie covered with a slice of melted cheese reminded him of pleasant nights long ago with his dear departed mother.

As the old badger stood in the midst of the holiday pandemonium that bustled all around, the Christmas Spirit began to whisper to his heart. Very quietly, so that no one would notice, he slipped away to light the fires in his many extra bedrooms and to turn down the beds for his guests. He may have forgotten Christmas, said the voice in his heart, but Christmas had not forgotten him. And if you were very quiet and if you looked very closely, you could see the corners of the badger’s old mouth begin to wrinkle into a very little smile.

by Jeremy Evans

Seattle Area SDB Church

Illustration by Jeremy Evans and Lucia B

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