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Walking Stick’s First Christmas

One day Grandpa went for a walk with his nice straight walking stick. He’d carved in the eyes and the mouth, then branching arms and two little feet. “You’re a fine, good walking stick,” Grandpa told him. “We’ll walk all over.”

Walking Stick stood proud and tall; he was ready. So he and Grandpa climbed up Pike’s Peak with Grandpa huffing and puffing the whole way, so Walking Stick had to drag him without letting him know. When they got home Grandpa stuck Walking Stick in the corner and flopped back in his recliner. He was wiped out.

The next day was Christmas Day and Walking Stick was excited to see what it was about, but the doorbell rang extra early and Martha Meddlesome whisked Grandpa out the door. “I’m taking you to my house for Christmas dinner,” she said and in all the commotion Walking Stick got left in the corner.

“The nerve of that!” Walking Stick’s knobby knees shook in fury. No cookies baking, no stockings hanging, no stirrings of any kind. He decided to go for a walk. He tied a little red bandana around his neck and set off. He went straight to the deep woods, his original home, and saw three baby bunnies.

“Are you having carrots for Christmas dinner?” they asked him hopefully.

“Certainly not!” Walking Stick replied. “I don’t like carrots.”

“But if you liked them, what time would you eat?” the bunnies asked.

Walking Stick thought two o’clock sounded about right.

“We’ll be there,” the bunnies replied.

Walking Stick stalked angrily into the forest; what should he do about those bunnies? Then he stumbled on Wing-in-a-Sling propped by a tree. Wing was part of the Canadian Geese force. He was on furlough since flying into a tree. “Will you be having worms with your Christmas dinner?” Wing asked.

“Certainly not!” Walking Stick replied. “I’m having glazed carrots and blueberries.”

“I like blueberries,” Wing said. “I’ll be there at two o’clock.”

And then it started to snow – huge, swirling flakes. “What next!” Walking Stick shouted to the sky as gale force winds blasted him straight into Ben Bear.

Ben Bear yawned sleepily and rubbed his eyes. “Can I take a nap at your house?”

“Certainly not, I have to start dinner,” but Walking Stick noticed the wind didn’t blow Ben Bear around so much.

“I’ll help you home,” Ben gathered Walking Stick in his fury paws and took him home. But as soon as they got in the nice warm house, Ben sank back in Grandpa’s recliner and started to snore.

“A fine help you are,” Walking Stick tied the red Santa apron around his middle and checked the pantry. Six cans of bean soup and a small can of tuna – not a promising start. Then he checked the freezer and found a frozen blueberry pie. Things were looking up.

He peeked into the refrigerator and saw a very nice bunch of carrots. “You can’t eat our carrots for Christmas dinner,” a tiny voice said. Six baby mice peeked from the cupboard.

“I can and I will,” Walking Stick replied. “Those bunnies are coming.”

“We’ll help you get ready,” the mice cried as they carted out the carrots. “Do you have any cheese?” Walking Stick looked in the back of the fridge and there was a big piece. “Hooray!” they all cheered.

So, Walking Stick set the bean soup to boil while the mice cut up the carrots. Ben Bear snored loudly as they hollered overtop him. Walking Stick slid the blueberry pie from the oven just as the door bell rang and Wing and the bunnies blew in with the snowstorm.

“We brought you some turnip tops,” the bunnies cried. Wing brought warm worm casserole, and it all looked splendid on the table.

“Wake up, Ben,” they cried but Ben kept snoring.

Then Wing swelled solemnly to attention. “Woods full of snow, hearts full of glow, love is a grin, let us dig in.”

Walking Stick thought it sounded pretty good for the last minute. And they ate worms and cheese, carrots with turnip tops, and warm blueberry pie for desert. All the little stomachs swelled out to bursting, except for Walking Stick who stayed straight up and down. “Can we sleep over?” everyone asked.

“Certainly not,” Walking Stick said but before he could finish all the bunnies and mice climbed onto Ben Bear’s big belly and tucked under Wing’s bandaged wing.

“You, too. You, too,” they cried and before he could stop them they grabbed Walking Stick’s arms and hoisted him up. Walking Stick was squashed on all sides by baby mice and squirmy bunnies and went sound to sleep.

He slept and slept, but that night he awoke with a horrible sound. Grandpa was fumbling his key in the lock. “Get out. Get out!” Walking Stick cried in panic, but everyone snored. Walking Stick scuttled back to his corner just in time.

Grandpa stood in the open doorway and looked over the table strewn with blueberry pie and carrot bits. There was a huge snoring bear in his recliner, plus bunnies, plus baby mice, plus a goose with a bandaged wing. Grandpa scratched his head in wonder, “Whatever has happened here?”

Walking Stick’s eyes glittered madly. He wanted to laugh but he didn’t. Still, all in all, he rather liked his first Christmas.

***

Walking Stick’s First Christmas is written by Suzanne Mays.

Suzanne Mays is a novelist and short story writer. Her stories are about women in search of land, family, and peace in themselves. Usually set in the mountains, they possess a quiet humor. Her novel, The Man Inside the Mountain is the story of Essie Bell, a woman who believes her son has survived the Civil War and is hiding in the mountain behind her farm.