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The Christmas Lamb

 

Copyright © 1989 Ann Carol Ulrich
All Rights Reserved


 

"LOOK, SCOTTY, here comes Santa Claus!"

"Where?"

"Outside. I just saw him coming down the street."

Scotty stood on his tiptoes at the large picture window. All he could see were the swirling snowflakes. The street was empty. No cars were in sight.

"Ha, ha, I fooled ya." His brother Mark grinned and pulled tinsel off the Christmas tree.

"Santa wouldn't come in a car, anyway," Scotty replied. "Mom said."

"Are you boys ready for church?" Mom stepped out of the kitchen. She wore her prettiest dress, the red velvet, and the smell of roses hung in the air from her cologne. She frowned. "Mark, don't pull the icicles off the tree!"

"Do we have to go to church?" asked Mark. "Can't we stay home and open presents?"

The front door opened and Dad stepped inside with an armload of wood. "Boys, get into the car," he said. "The motor is running."

"But will we still get to open a present when we come back from church?" Scotty wanted to be sure the family tradition was still intact.

"That depends," said Mom, 'on how well behaved you two are."

"I want to open all of the presents!" Mark accounced.

"Can we?" Scotty grinned.

Mom held his coat as Scotty slipped his arms into the sleeves. "You know that on Christmas Eve we let you open one gift. Then on Christmas morning we open the gifts from Santa."

Scotty's eyes darted to the colorfully lit tree in the corner of the living room. Half a dozen packaged gifts waited beneath the glittering ornaments and twinkling lights. He already knew which present he would open. There was a big box with a large blue ribbon that had his name on it. He could hardly wait for church to be over.

"THIS IS BORING," whispered Mark.

Scotty sat between his brother and his mother in the pew. Candles brightened the dimly lit sanctuary as the organ began to play. A lot of people were in church tonight. He kept thinking of the package with the big blue bow. What could be in it? Something wonderful, for sure. Scotty wanted church to be over so that he could go home and open his present.

"Silent night... holy night..." Mom sang in a pleasant high voice. Scotty knew a few of the words and tried to sing along. Mark was too busy ripping his bulletin into shreds.

When the hymn was finished, the minister stood up and gave a blessing. Scotty heard him say, "And let us bear in mind this Christmas Eve that it is far better to give than to receive."

The rest of the words were lost to him, but for some reason Scotty pondered these words. What did the man mean it was better to give than to receive? Scotty didn't agree at all. After all, it was so much fun to unwrap gifts and see what was inside of them. How could anybody think giving presents was better than getting them?

"OH BOY! IT'S TIME! It's time!" shouted Mark after they arrived home. "We get to open our presents."

"One present," said Mom.

Dad opened the door to the wood stove and poked the smoldering logs with the brass rod. "I'd better throw on some more wood," he said. "It's going to get real cold tonight."

Mom hugged herself as she huddled in front of the stove.

Scotty had been thinking. "Mom, is Dad going to keep a fire burning all night?"

"Why, I imagine."

Scotty scratched his head. "But if there's a fire all night, how's Santa Claus going to come down the chimney?"

Mark laughed as he shook presents beneath the tree. "He'll get burned!"

Mom and Dad looked at each other and smiled, then Dad said, "I suppose Santa will see the smoke coming out of the chimney and he'll come through the door instead."

"You mean, Santa Claus has a key?" Mark's eyes were wide.

Scotty hadn't thought about that. How would Santa get into the house if the front door was locked?

"I'm sure he'll find a way." Mom stood up. "Why don't you boys choose a gift to open?"

Mark dove under the tree and nearly knocked it over. Scotty hung back, but eyed the large box with the big blue bow. The puzzle about Santa Claus slipped from his mind as he tried to envision what was inside.

"I'm going to open this one!" Mark tore the wrappings off a huge box with a red bow.

Dad reached under the tree and lifted the package with the blue bow. "Here, Scott. Open this one."

Scotty's fingers had trouble lifting off the ribbon, it was so tight. Mom helped him break the seal, and he unwrapped the rest by himself.

"Wow!" cried Mark. "Look, Scotty! It's a remote control truck!" Mark sat in a nest of torn paper and ribbons. He tore the cardboard to get at the truck and its controls.

"What is it, Scotty? "

Scotty removed the paper and lifted the top off the box.

"It's something I found at the craft shop," Dad told Mom. "I know Scotty has a lot of animals, but when I saw this I just couldn't resist it."

Scotty saw something white and soft. He reached his hand inside and pulled out a stuffed toy lamb. Its fur was so sleek and satiny, it felt comforting and warm against his skin. The lamb was in a crouching position and its face tilted upward in a shy fashion. Huge shiny black eyes with long lashes greeted him with a gentle smile and a pink nose.

"Oh Ken, it's darling," crooned Mom.

Scotty hugged the lamb. For some reason the toy felt like it had always been his. It made him think of his old blanket from his babyhood. The blanket had gone everywhere with him but had eventually worn out until there was only a torn shred left.

"Do you like it, son?" Dad smiled at him.

Scotty nodded, but Mark frowned. "It's just a stupid sheep. A remote control truck is a hundred times better!" He looked around. "Can we open another?"

"No," said Dad.

"It's bedtime," said Mom. "Come on, boys, You've got to get to sleep if you want Santa Claus to come."

"Aw, do we have to?" fretted Mark.

"I want to see Santa," said Scotty.

"You can't see him," Mark smirked. "Nobody can."

Mom marched both of them upstairs to their bedroom, where she helped Scotty into his pajamas.

"I'm going to sleep with my Lambchop," said Scotty. He set the toy beside his pillow.

"Is that what you named her?"" asked Mom.

"How do you know it's a her?" Mark called from his bed.

"Well, it's up to Scotty." She pulled the sheet over Scotty, then went to tuck in Mark.

Scotty snuggled up to his Lambchop. He hadn't thought about the lamb being a girl. Now that Mom mentined it, Lambchop did look more like a girl lamb than a boy lamb. But it really didn't matter to him. "Goodnight, Lambchop," he said. "I'm always going to keep you."

Mom led the prayers and then turned off the lamp.

"Mom, wait!" Scotty sat up in bed.

"What now?" Mom sighed.

"Is Santa Clause really going to come tonight?"

"Yes! now go to sleep," said Mark.

"But how will he get here?" asked Scotty.

Mom stood at the window and looked out at the black night. "Well, it's stopped snowing. I think Santa will have no trouble getting his reindeer through this year."

"Do they really fly?"

"That's what I hear. Now goodnight, you two. No talking."

Mom left the room and Scotty snuggled beneath his covers. He cradled Lambchop in his arms, but he didn't feel sleepy. The thought of Santa Claus cruising through the starlit sky was too exciting. In the morning there would be piles of presents under the Christmas tree, and the stockings would be filled with candy and wonderful things.

"I can't sleep, Lambchop," Scotty murmured.

"Be quiet," Mark called from his bed.

Scotty watched the window until his eyes grew sleepy. He saw a spark of light shoot across the sky. Then he hugged Lambchop and rolled over onto his side.

 

READ PART TWO of THE CHRISTMAS LAMB

 

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