One of the most-read Christmas stories for children of all time is "The Night Before Christmas." You know: 'Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.'
Well, with all due credits to the original author, here's my version as Christmas week approaches this year. You're not allowed to think it's corny until you spend at least 15 minutes reflecting on what your family farm household is like at the holidays. If you can't find some humor there, no matter what kind of year you've had, you owe it to yourself to look again.
'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the farm, many a creature was stirring, especially the raccoons.
They squeezed through the barn door, so stealthy and quiet, no one heard a peep, not even the sheep.
The sheep were all sleeping, like good little lambs, while visions of alfalfa hay and grain danced in their heads. Morning would come, and so would the farmer, bringing hay and feed. And if they were lucky, as a Christmas treat, he would forget to chain the gate, and they could go out to play. Those sheep never miss a beat.
I in my tee-shirt and mom in her pajamas were all nestled in bed for a long winter's nap—well, not really, it was a short night after keeping the grandkids the night before, and we both had to get up early.
Anyway, There arose from the dog pen such a clatter, with Cowboy the old basset hound whining and barking, my wife nudged me to see what the matter.
Actually, it was more like: "Tom, go shut up that dog!"
I jumped to my feet and pulled up the sash … really, didn't they have curtains back then?
I looked out and what did I see, but a mother opossum trudging along –outside Cowboy's pen of course.
Cowboy barked and barked, and the opossum seemed not to care at all. She was a decoy for the raccoons in the barn, that were having a ball.
Sack after sack they tore through the feed, all the while not failing to take heed, they knew that the dog, while annoying, was safe in his pen, and they were all alone- in my feed bin.
"I'll get them, I'll get them," I thought to myself. Then my thought trailed off, and I fell back to sleep.
I'm getting old, you know.
Well, tune in next week. I should remember the rest of the classic tale, told in my version, by then. And in the meantime, prepare for a blessed Christmas season. Remember it's not the gift that counts, it's what's in the heart of the giver.