It was on Christmas Day that I promised to share our very own Christmas mystery tale, but I was derailed by the great turkey slaughter. I am breathing and eating normally again and the involuntary shudders have abated. I can now share the Christmas tale.
'Twas the night before Christmas and on McLaws Road.....
Nope, sorry, I'm not adept enough at literary adaptations to tell this story in the verse and rhyme of that familiar prose. I'll just give it to you straight.
Mike and I were up late Christmas Eve, as parents often are. In fact, it was the wee hours of Christmas morning before we crawled into bed - about 1:30 a.m. or so. After a wonderfully exhausting Christmas Eve with family, we fell quickly off to sleep.
At 2:21 a.m. I was awakened by the soft tinkling of a bell. I startled, because in spite of the many childhood (and grown up) years of wishing to hear sleigh bells, I never, ever had. I leaped out of bed and padded to the dining room, which is really the entry to the house, and saw that Santa had already arrived. The stockings were stuffed and laying on the table (odd location), the presents were crammed under the tree. While I was tempted to snoop, I did not, believing the 1st glimpse of Santa treasures should be enjoyed by the kiddos in a few hours. I looked to the table one more time and noted the jingle bells knitted to the toes of Adam's and Tanner's stockings. "Hmmm," I thought. "That faint jingle sure sounded like the jingle I recognize from the boys' stockings."
I tottered back to bed and waited for sleep to come. Just as I was drifting off, I heard the soft jangling again and immediately the image came to mind of our beagle-esque dog Mia standing proud as punch on the table top rooting through one of the stockings for the chocolate that Santa surely left. For the 2nd time within in an hour (and, let's face it, probably the 2nd time in the last 25 years), I leapt from bed, this time in terror because Mia is a vomiting dog on the best of days; I surely didn't want her tanking on chocolate and ruining Christmas by up and dying on us. I returned to the dining room and found everything exactly as I'd left it not a half hour before. I looked around for a possible culprit and went back to bed.
I lay there tense and expectant - I knew I didn't imagine the tinkling bell. I don't imagine things (when outside the grip of a particularly entertaining migraine, that is). What could be making that....? There it was again - the tinkling. Just as I cottoned on to the obvious answer and the thought was forming in my head, "Crap! Is it a MOUSE in the stocking? I haven't seen evidence of a mouse since last year...how did a MOUSE find the stockings already?", suddenly, a crashing, clattering thumping shook the walls.
Now, I'd had it -- that was IT!! THAT was no mouse! What the heck was going on?!? I knew that Santa was long gone - I mean, why on earth would he have been lingering on our roof after he'd already dumped the goods? Was Adam trying to psyche us out by playing Santa? Didn't he know his little sisters were firmly in dancing sugarplums territory by this time? With all this running through my head, I shook Mike awake and hollered something at him about someone or something being on the roof.
He grumbled awake just as I thought I heard that faint tinkling again, followed by a "Whummpp!!", again rattling the wall. Sitting up and focusing my senses, I could tell the rattling was the front of the house, not the roof.
Just as Mike leapt out of bed (we had lots of leaping in our life suddenly, truly a disconcerting notion when you're our age) and I shot out from under the covers one last time, it started to dawn on me.
And then I knew. Well, I suspected. And a quick glance out the front window confirmed it.
It was Gertie, the Christmas Goat.
Only, I don't think she was full of good cheer. She looked a little peeved. In fact, I'm fairly certain that her bleak little expressionless face was conveying something along the lines of, "Yo, Dilberts, it's stinkin' cold out here! What the crap kind of Christmas is this? You guys go off for the night, come home visibly fatter, stoke your little fires, crank your little heaters and trundle off to your nice warm beds while I'm stuck out here with these poopin' turkeys, who, excuse me, sleep in their own dung!! Explain to me just what the heck there is to ho, ho, ho about right about now. Oh, I'm sorry - I see you there....whassamatter, did I disturb your slumber? Did I roll you out of your toasty little bed and you had to pitter patter across the chilly cement floor to peer out at the source of the disturbance? Oh, I'm sorry - hate to bug you while I'm FREEZING my furless buns off out here. Yeah, excuse me for fogging up the window there!"
Really, Gertie, where's your Christmas spirit?
Not that I said that to her. Frankly, I was a little rattled by the scalding tongue-lashing so I hurriedly ducked my head behind the door and out of view and turned off the porch light. And then, on Christmas Day, before we left for another day of revelry at Grandma and Grandpa's, Mike rigged a nice, toasty warming lamp on the front porch for Gertie and the turkeys. And we avoided eye contact for a few days, so as not to awaken the sleeping dragon behind those mysterious amber eyes.
And that was our Merry Christmas tale.
Next year, ear plugs.
Love from the farm,