We all went to grandma and grandpa’s house that year for Christmas. We’d arrived just in time before a blizzard hit and that was no mean feat, we were something like fifty people from all over Illinois. Grandma had made lots of pallets for us to sleep on the floor. Now, thinking back from my 60 some years, I guess it looked more like an emergency shelter than a house. Except for the huge Christmas tree in the living room.
The pot belly coal stoves were blasting out their heat. As well as the 50 some odd people, so it was really hot that Christmas eve, though outside it was very cold indeed.
Grandma distributed egg nog and hot chocolate as well as Christmas cookies and we all waited for Grandpa’s Christmas story. Grandpa told the best stories. Every time we visited he’d tell a story about “the olden days”. This was the story he told us that night:
“Well now, in the olden days, seems that Santy Claus didn’t have no reindeer you know. There weren’t so many places he had to go to give gifts back then. America hadn’t been discovered yet, and the Christmas star hadn’t begun to shine…util…well now I’m going to tell you about that when!
Old Santy Claus lived in the dark woods of Germany…the Black Forest I think it was called. He loved his forest and he loved little kids too.
One year, it came to his ears that the terrible snow storms had blocked everyone in their houses. The Yule log, which you had to burn to welcome the new year, had gotten wet and wouldn’t burn. All the proper cleaning had been done for the festivity, but without the burning of the log…well, the Sun wouldn’t come back bringing spring with Him. The children of course couldn’t have their Yule gifts unless the log burnt. It was a right terrible situation, I can tell you.
So old Santy, as he was more or less the king of his forest, chose a greatbig ash log that he’d put asides for a long winter’s night, and he pulled out his sled, hooked up his horse and put the log and a whole bunch of little wooden toys he’d made over the year into the sled and started off for the village which was pretty far from his home and it was still snowing too, by gum!
It took him no little while to get there and night began to fall. It was very dark at first then, up high in the sky, he saw a brilliant star that seemed to sit right over where the village should have been. The snow kept falling, and it was right cold. His trusty horse though just kept moving along going towards the star.
It was close to 10:00 of the night, just like now, when he saw the first lights of the village. The bells on his sled were a jingeling away, and the people looked out to see who’d come to visit them. He pulled up to the great house, were all the people used to go to celebrate their feasts…it was nearly abandoned, but the Chief of the village was there.
“What have you come here for in this terrible night?” asked the Chief.
“I’ve come to bring you warmth and light…and a couple of gifts for the children too.” he replied as he pulled off the skins that protected the Yule log and the toys.
The Chief rang the bell that called all the people to the great house. They came in droves, thinking maybe there was an emergency…in those days, there were quite a lot of barbarians around, like Romans and Huns you know…and when they saw it was Santy’s sled they were not a little surprised. But very happy!
They took the log into the great hall, and the gifts too. Everyone ran back home to bring food and drink…like grandma did a little while back. And the people sat around the fire, singing songs for the Sun who would now surely return. At midnight…the people went outside…the snow had stopped at last, and the star that shone in the sky was so bright, they were sure that it must have been the Suns’s own son who’d come to tell them that all was right in the world and spring would be early that year. You know, I think that must have been the very first Christmas in the world, nows I come to think about it.”
We kids sat in awe, and then one of my older cousins said: “Look, it’s stopped snowing! Let’s go see if the star has come out too!”
(I’m afraid I went a little over the word count, this is 784 words)
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