The Christmas Mouse

Here’s a story I wrote this Christmas for my boys. I claim copyright on it, so please do not circulate it without my permission for profit or otherwise, but feel free to read it to your own kids if you like it. In fact, if you’re artistic and would like to collaborate on creating some artwork for it then please get in touch!

9am.The alarm had rung half an hour before, but the Christmas Mouse had reached out a sleepy hand, slammed the ringer off, and turned over for a snooze.

It was Christmas Eve, the time when the Christmas Mouse should have been at his busiest frantically filling sacks with gifts for all the little mice of the kingdom. But the Christmas Mouse snuggled into his blankets and snoozed on.

Finally the last vestiges of sleep left him, and he cast a bleary eye around his little room. It was spotless. Not a thing out of place. Not a gift or sack in sight. Sadness filled him, tinged with despair. What had happened to Christmas?

Years ago, he fondly remembered with a sigh, his bedroom and the rest of his house would have been full to bursting with gaily wrapped gifts of all shapes and sizes. He would have been at it for months, checking his lists against his stores, buying what he lacked, hammering and gluing and sewing and sawing and screwing to make the things he had been asked for. Wrapping present after present. Bear-shaped parcels were the hardest, but he especially loved doing the tricky bits around the ears.

Christmas Eve used to be the culmination of a whole year’s worth of effort, the wonderfully satisfying end to all his hard work, when he finally climbed aboard his magic carpet and swooped and glided through the woods and meadows dropping his carefully prepared load, one surprise package after another, into the homes of young mice near and far.

What had gone wrong?

***


It had all started with one little mouse who suddenly had a doubt.

He had looked at his present one Christmas morning and, though he loved his new model plane and was excited about taking it for a test flight as soon as the breakfast dishes had been cleared away and warm clothing donned, he realised that it was silly to believe a magical mouse had dropped it down the chimney. He looked at the unwrapped package in his hands, and looked at the chimney. It clearly wouldn’t fit.

If the present hadn’t come down the chimney, how had it arrived? There was only one logical conclusion (the young mouse was studying logic at school, and was very good at it). There was only one place his christmas present could have come from, and it wasn’t from some pie-in-the-sky notion of a Christmas Mouse. It must have come from his Mummy and Daddy.
“Mummy,” he cried suddenly. “Thank you for my plane! It’s fantastic!”.

Mrs Mouse looked up from her last piece of toast. Or the current last piece of toast, for she’d had several last slices since refilling her tea cup. Mr Mouse put down the fork which had been carrying a slice of sausage towards his mouth. They exchanged a glance.

“Timmy,” Mrs Mouse said carefully, “I’m glad you like it. But it’s from the Christmas Mouse, you know, not from us.”

Timmy looked at her and smiled. He acknowledged the little white lie with a nod and started to tidy away his plate. His little sister was watching the exchange with the eyes of innocence. He wasn’t about to give the game away.

Out flying his new plane, little Timmy mouse told his friends what he had discovered. Some laughed at him. Of course the Christmas Mouse was real! They had their presents to prove it. Some wondered whether he might be right. A few, after careful consideration, realised that he must be. A magical Christmas Mouse, unseen but all seeing, who came in the night of Christmas Eve and dropped presents for every little mouse in the Kingdom?
What a childish notion!

And so it began. The Christmas mouse went on Christmas after Christmas, unaware of the change that was sweeping the land. It made no difference to him anyway, the parents knew the truth and the young mice still got their presents, dropped by the magical mouse down every chimney in the land. Using magic, of course, as Timmy should have realised.

But young mice grow up fast. Unthinkable though it may seem to them, they grow up into adult mice and start families of their own. The youngsters who did not believe in the Christmas Mouse bought presents for their young ones themselves. There was no need for the Christmas Mouse to come to those houses. House by house, his Christmas delivery list shortened and shortened.

Until now.

Now, there was nobody on the list.

***


So it was the last day before the big one, and the Christmas Mouse found himself with nothing to do. He’d loved the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve, though it was tiring. He’d looked forward to the little mice opening their presents on Christmas Day, even though he was never able to see it, because he felt their excitement and their wonder in his heart and it filled him with joy. He was magical, after all.

As he lowered himself, with a cup of hot strong tea balanced on its little saucer, into his big old armchair, slightly the worse for many years of wear but still his favourite, a single, deep, vibrant note rang out. BONNGG! In the silence of the empty house, it startled him so much that his cup bounced off the saucer and landed, magically, the right way up amidst the balls of wool he was using to knit a new jumper for himself.

With his heart beating fast, he dashed over to the Christmas wish basket on his desk. And there it was. A Christmas wish. A real, live (well no, not actually live), honest to goodness Christmas wish. He suddenly came over all shaky and had to sit down. The hot strong tea calmed his nerves and he made himself read the wish.

“Dear Christmas Mouse,” it said. “My brother says that you don’t exist, but Mummy and Daddy say you do and I know you do because otherwise where would the presents come from? I would really, really like a new lamp for Christmas. My old lamp is too dim, and when I lie in bed after Mummy has tucked me in I can hardly see the pictures in my book. Sorry my wish is so late, I hope you can still make it come true. Lots of love, Archie.”

It so happened that Archie’s Mummy and Daddy were particularly poor, having been suffering from flu for weeks. They were down to their last few coppers and there was barely enough for food let alone for presents. Little Archie mouse would not be getting his lamp from them, and the Christmas Mouse knew it.

The Christmas Mouse looked at his watch. It was already mid afternoon on Christmas Eve. There would be no shops open now, but that didn’t matter. He would have to work fast, but Archie would have his lamp.

He worked all the rest of the afternoon in his workshop, carving, sanding, drilling and wiring. Then he took out his needle and thread and sewed a lampshade, most intricate work with a moon and stars shining out from blue silk he’d found at the back of the cupboard.

When it was done, he looked at it critically and smiled. It was beautiful, quite the nicest lamp he’d ever made in fact. A lamp fit, he thought with some regret, for the only believer in the whole of mousedom.

With the lamp wrapped carefully in his brightest wrapping paper, and tucked safely into his sack, he opened the barn doors wide and whistled for his carpet. It was Persian, very old. Very magical. It had somehow managed to look sad too, in way in which only a magical Persian carpet can, but at his whistle it bounded eagerly across the barn and slid under his feet – knocking him over but catching him and soaring up into the air in a manner it hadn’t considered seemly since its younger days! A Christmas delivery to make! It had all but given up hope of ever making the Christmas run again.

With not the slightest sound, because magic is silent of course, the carpet sped through the night towards the tree where little Archie mouse and his family lived. It was all the way over the other side of the forest, and the carpet ducked and dived to avoid branches, and swooped and swooshed to avoid the sturdy trees.

The Christmas Mouse just held on tight and enjoyed the ride.

The house appeared up ahead, and the Christmas Mouse pulled the precious gift from his sack and held it up in the moonlight. He blessed it with his own magical wish, took aim, and launched it straight and true down, down towards the mouse house and then down, down the chimney. The fact that the chimney was far too small somehow did not seem to matter in the slightest. With a satisfied smile as he sensed the present land with a soft thud right under the Christmas tree, he whooshed away into the night. Back to his own home, his warm and cosy bed, and a night of very pleasant dreams indeed.

It had not been a busy Christmas, but it had, at least, been a Christmas and he went to bed a happy and contented mouse.

When little Archie mouse woke up the next morning, he could hardly believe his eyes. The present was so shiney! Could it be what he’d wished for? Of course, we know it was. He put it next to his bed and lay gazing at it until his parents awoke and came in to see him.

They both stared at the lamp in astonishment. They were far, far more surprised than Archie was.

***


And that is the end of our story.

Well, almost. But not quite.

For the Christmas Mouse, this was the start of the story. For the next year he found more wishes from more little mice – Archie’s new siblings. The year after that there were more. Word must have been getting around.

“You know that silly idea that our parents are the ones who give us gifts at Christmas?” the little mice were saying to each other. “Well that’s just nonsense. The truth, of course, is far more magical. Christmas happens because of the Christmas Mouse!”

And the Christmas Mouse was kept very, very busy after that.

About mikbarne
I'm a writer and freelance communications and collaboration consultant with nearly 20 years experience in UK telecommunications, specialising in VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration, and building effective communications architectures. Visit my Google+ Profile

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