Focus on Nature has written Christmas stories for the young and young at heart since 1985. This year I thought it would be fun to bring that very first children’s Christmas story about Squeaky the mouse back.
Once upon a time there was a little wood mouse named Squeaky who made his home in an old wood shed. The animal book calls him a deer mouse because his soft brown fur and white undersides are the colors of the white-tailed deer. He is a handsome mouse with big black eyes, unusually large ears, big long whiskers and a nose that is always sniffing.
Months ago he spent a lot of time building his winter nest, where he’ll spend most of his days curled up in a tight ball, fast asleep. After all, mice do most of their scurrying about at night. I guess that’s why they need those big, beady eyes to see in the dark, those large ears to hear every little sound and that nose to sniff every smell in the air.
Anyway, Squeaky thought he had things pretty well set, for, like a squirrel, he had gathered a winter supply of seeds and nuts to hold him over during the real cold and snowy days of winter. After all, a warm nest and lots of food for winter are just about all a mouse could ask for.
Two boys and a girl lived with their parents in a small house in the woods next to the wood shed. They were like other boys and girls — they had tree huts, they played in the woods and the girl always carried around an old doll that was growing shabby.
The big black stove in the kitchen never seemed to be satisfied and every day more wood had to be brought in. It was quite a job for the two boys, and on cold days it wasn’t much fun going outside to keep the wood box full.
The weatherman was talking about a snowstorm coming and the family hadn’t gotten their Christmas tree yet. With only a few days left before Christmas, the kids were pestering their parents to get one. After all, it would be awful if it snowed and they couldn’t get a tree. Well, as most good parents would, they got everyone together and headed out east to get their tree.
It was a long drive but a worthwhile one. When they got to the tree farm, there was a long line of trees to choose from. They had just been cut and smelled so good. But it’s not easy to pick out a tree, particularly when it’s cold and windy out. One of the children wanted a tall tree, another wanted a full tree; back and forth they went until finally they found it — the perfect tree. It was soon tied on top of the car and they all headed back home in great anticipation. They put the tree in the wood shed to protect it if it snowed. It surely looked like it would, for it was blustery and overcast — real Christmas weather.
The next day everyone was excited about Christmas, which was just a day away. Getting wood in the big red wagon was almost fun, since a little work might just help when it came to getting presents. The boys would have to fill the wood box to overflowing so they wouldn’t have to be bothered getting wood on Christmas day.
Just as they started their task, it started to snow. Oh, boy! Snow for Christmas! Santa surely would come in his sleigh this year. The wood seemed to fly from the big dry wood pile. Inside, Squeaky had been curled up in his usual way, sleeping the day away. Often he had heard movements outside when the boys got wood but had felt perfectly safe in his little nest. But now the noise and movement of wood were getting closer and closer! It even shook his nest a bit and woke him right up.
“What’s going on out there?” he wondered.
The wood pile was getting lower and lower and nearer and nearer to Squeaky’s nest. As a matter of fact, it was only two logs away when Squeaky jumped up and took a peek. It was bright outside, and he blinked his big eyes because he was not used to the daylight. What he saw scared him half to death.
There were two boys filling a big red wagon with logs, logs that were part of his house. He darted back into the safety of the pile. The boys filling the wagon didn’t see Squeaky peeking out at them and kept on working. Then a log moved and Squeaky’s whole nest, with all of his food supply, tumbled down. The boys noticed this and felt bad, but it was too late now, the damage was done. The nest lay in a loose pile of grass and bark on the dirt floor. The boys knew they had broken up a mouse’s nest but didn’t know what they could do about it.
They thought of picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together, but that was impossible. “What could we do to make it right with the mouse?” they wondered. After all, it was getting nearer to Christmas and they had the Christmas spirit that filled the air.
“Well, we could at least bring him something to eat,” they decided. So back to the house one of the boys went and he brought back some of the peanut butter they knew mice loved. But where should they put it?
“If we put it in the open,” they said, “a squirrel might get it.” They found a place deep inside the Christmas tree and smeared the peanut butter on a limb. This would be Squeaky’s Christmas present from them.
With that, the boys went into the house and forgot about their mouse because Christmas excitement was everywhere. After they were gone, Squeaky came out to look around for his nest. It was gone, but a certain twitching came to his nose. He smelled something special. He smelled peanut butter. A few short hops and jumps and there it was. What a surprise!
“This will hold me for a time,” he thought, as he sat there nibbling away.
P.S. Watch for Focus on Nature next week to find out how Squeaky’s Christmas adventure turns out.