A little boy out in the snow, playing his drum and srounded by animals.

Christmas Magic in a Stable

Since I was a child, I’ve held fast to a very strong belief that the animals will talk on the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. You must be quiet, and listen with your heart, and soul. You must have patience. And most of all, you must believe.

Many years and counting, my dad has joined me every Christmas eve. You see, we are both single. Or in some books, its called divorced. But, no matter. A tradition was born way back when, which has continued to this day. It’s usually only us, but often my mom and step dad, or my son will join us.

Hours later, with our bellies full and presents unwrapped, mom and step-dad leave behind kind words and good cheer, and journey home.

I gaze at my tired pappy sitting in the recliner, his many presents carefully stacked nearby. A John Deere tractor clock, a John Wayne coffee cup. More tokens to add to his dozens of dusty collections, which he will carefully place on his enormous bookcase.

The cup of coffee near him is almost empty, its steam long gone. I glance at the clock beyond him. It ticks silently, as I hold my breath. Perhaps that is where the coffee steam went. I must have inhaled it, waiting in anticipation for midnight.

“Pappy.” I whisper. “It’s almost time. Lets go to the barn.”

He stifles a yawn, and rubs his weathered face. He knows there’s no way around it. It’s a trip he has made every year with me, down the long cold hill. He’d known when he left his house, to grab his warmest coat. He’s also known to grab a catnap while he could on that recliner, for at the stroke of midnight, I’d beckon him awake for our yearly journey.

He slowly pulls his coat on, knowing there is no use arguing. The Christmas music still plays, as I slip on my boots.
    Come, they told me…pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
    Our newborn King to see, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum…
We brace against the frosty wind, and slip into the silent night. The glow of the barn is only yards ahead. The glow and excitement in my heart nearly lights our path. The Christmas song still plays in my head. The drums beat in time with our brisk pace, as we approach the stable.
    Little baby, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
    I am a poor boy too, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum…
Nearly half a dozen pony whinnies greet us when we enter the barn. A timid barn cat scurries up the ladder to the manger, and peers down at us in curiosity.

“Are they goanna talk?” Pappy whispers behind me.

“They will, just listen with your heart.” I reply.

Sure enough, Blondie wiggled her lips at me. “Where’s my treat momma?” She asks in the softest pony voice I’d ever heard.

The drums beat in a heightened crescendo in my head. The music has followed me down the cold hill. The greatest gift stands before me, the gift of life, of love, that a tiny Child born in a manger so many centuries ago gave us.
    I have no gift to bring, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
    That’s fit to give a King, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum…
Jellybean peeks over her stall door, and brings me back to the present. “Did you bring carrots, momma?” She breathes mist into the frosty Christmas morn.

I whirl toward pappy. Did you hear?” I almost plead.

He only smiles, and nods, as he has done each year. One at a time he gives each pony a hug, and a tender pat, as I go fetch their treats.

“Here you go Snickers.” I handed the treat to his eager lips. His ears flicked and wriggled as he crunched the aromatic goodie.

“Thanks momma.” He whispered.

And so on with Dakota, and finally, Diamond. Their eyes spoke volumes to me in the Christmas air. Their hearts and souls were one with mine in a tiny faraway barn, somewhere in the vast night. As was a tiny Child’s long ago, who lay upon a manger.

A soft wink, a wiggle of a lip, the twitch of an ear. The barn was alive with the music of their voices, as they thanked me for the midnight visit. The stomp of a foot, the swish of a tail, as they each expressed their gratitude .

Pappy could only lean against the manger, his eyes opened wide, as he watched the magic of Christmas breathe before him.
    Then, he nodded, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
    The ox and lamb kept time, pa-rum-pa-pa-pum…
We quietly left the barn, and began our journey home. A blast of wind ripped the hat from my head. I reached out for it, and gazed into the midnight sky. To the East, the brightest star we had ever seen shone across the land. Together, we stood staring in awe.
    Then he smiled at me… pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
    Me and my drum…
Our journey to the barn had breathed into us everlasting joy which time could never erase. The animals had indeed spoken. As they had so many years ago, when a Child was born in a manger before them.

We had found the magic of Christmas in a tiny stable, on a cold, dark night.

And, it was good.

~ Shelley Madden ~
<shellmadde at aol.com>
Copyright © 2011

Shelley Madden is an author who resides in Wise County, Texas with her son, Dustin, along with her ponies, poultry, dogs and cats. She enjoys writing, fishing, shooting her pink guns, and falling off her horse, Diamond. She writes a weekly column for an Entertainment magazine, and is a frequent contributor to Heartwarmers and Petwarmers. Her short stories have also been published in newsprint and on numerous websites and e-zines across the nation. She aspires one day to learn how to change the light bulb in her gun cabinet.

[ by: Shelley Madden, Copyright © 2011, ( shellmadde at aol.com ) -- submitted by: Shelley Madden ]

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