Last week Squeaky was surprised in his quiet little nest by some boys picking up wood for the family stove. The last we saw of Squeaky, he was enjoying some peanut butter the boys had taken out to him when they realized they had disturbed his nest. Let’s get back to our story.
It was now getting to be late afternoon and soon to be Christmas Eve, so the father went out to the wood shed to get the tree. He didn’t know Squeaky was there enjoying the peanut butter, so he picked up the tree, Squeaky and all. “What’s happening now?” the mouse wondered. The tree rocked and swayed as the father carried it into the house through the swirling snow.
Inside it was warm, and Squeaky had never seen anything quite like it. There were special smells in the house and candles burning. It was like a dream world. The tree was set down for a minute and it was then that Squeaky thought it would be a good time to get out and hide. He ran under the big sofa against the side wall. He could see out, but no one could see him. He was lucky to be able to hide before anyone noticed him.
The tree was put up and the children decorated it as high as they could reach. The mother and father would have to take care of the rest. Over in the big kitchen, the mother had been preparing all kinds of good things to eat and drink for Christmas Eve because lots of people would be stopping in.
All this was kind of scary to Squeaky, who had never seen anything like it before. He was very tired from his busy day and climbed up inside one of the arms of the sofa and fell fast asleep.
In the big room the fire crackled in the old wood stove. The children, excited about Christmas, whispered and giggled. The smells — oh, the smells: apple cider, baked pies, fruit and nuts. Nuts — like Squeaky had never seen before — were in beautiful crystal bowls. People came in with packages, walked around, talked, ate and drank. The kids hung their stockings by the fireplace and went to bed, while grownups still came in and out of the house.
Then, most of the folks left to go to church at midnight. This was the first time it was quiet. Now Squeaky could explore. It was like a fairy world. The Christmas tree sparkled with lights all over it. Big balls and tinsel glittered, and around the tree were packages, big and small. He ran here and there. He jumped from box to box. He ran along the top of the table to where there was a dish with some cookies and a note alongside it. “Dear Santa: Hope you had a safe trip. Thank you for whatever you leave, especially if it is a new doll, an airplane and a baseball, bat and mitt,” signed, Peter, Peggy and Roger.
“Well, that was pretty nice for the kids to leave a note for Santa,” Squeaky thought, “but who is this Santa anyway? I’ve never heard of Santa”. He nibbled half of one of the cookies, for he hadn’t eaten since his peanut butter snack.
About that time he heard the folks returning from church so he scurried down the table, across the room and under the couch. Things were quieter now with the company gone. The mother and father brought out extra boxes, put them around the tree and turned out all the lights except those on one little tree on the side table. Then off to bed they went and it was quiet again. Snow had been falling for a long time now and the world outside was blanketed in white. Everywhere the snow glistened.
Never before had Squeaky been as scared as when his nest was destroyed and never before had he been so happy as in this nice warm house. This had been a big day for him, so being very tired, he went back to his little spot under the couch where he curled up inside the arm and fell fast asleep.
Squeaky was awakened in the middle of the night by some strange sounds outside. Then he could smell something different — someone smoking a pipe. Someone else was in the room with him.
When he peeked out from under the couch he could hardly believe what he saw. He just caught sight of a boot going up the chimney. Soot fell down and there was a lot of movement up on the roof. He heard what he thought were tiny hooves and he was sure he heard sleigh bells. Then down through the chimney there came a muffled voice calling, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”
What could it mean? Things had changed a bit in the big living room. The empty stockings were now stuffed with goodies. A candy cane stuck out of each one. Who could have done that? And look! A new doll lay propped up against the Christmas tree, and there on the floor were a ball, a bat and glove. And sure enough, a beautiful silvery airplane! How did they get there?
Squeaky looked around. He had to get up higher to see what was going on so he climbed up to the table where the cookies had been. Lo and behold, the cookies and the milk were all gone! Squeaky couldn’t figure it out.
He climbed back down to his warm spot on the couch, twitched his little whiskers, cleaned himself off and settled down for a nice sleep. Just as he was about to doze off he remembered something he had heard the boys talking about when they loaded their wagon with wood. So this is what they were talking about! They told of food, gifts, friends, a visitor in the night. “Now I remember” Squeaky said, “They were talking about Christmas — that’s what it’s all about.” Squeaky was so happy he could hardly contain himself.
The old wood stove crackled away across the room and everything seemed so nice and warm and snuggly. The smell of evergreens drifted through the air from the beautiful Christmas tree that glistened above. He had an extra-special feeling that he just couldn’t explain. As he looked out the window, he noticed the snow had stopped and there was a special stillness that made him think the whole world had gone fast asleep. Squeaky was just about to curl up in the arm of the sofa when he jumped up and shouted in the loudest mouse voice he could muster, ‘Merry Christmas, everybody, and to all a good night!” Then he flopped back into the soft fluffiness of the big couch and fell fast asleep.