Writen by Bil Scott


fireplace

You know the one.

You have probably heard the story many times before. The tree was lovingly decorated with wonderful ornaments. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. The children were nestled all snug in there beds. Mom and Dad had just settled down for a long winter nap, and oh yes, not a creature was stirring, least of all a mouse!

This is a little story about something else that went on that Christmas night.

Marley was the mouse that wasn't stirring.

If you looked closely at the fireplace.

Very near the bricks.

On the right side.

Handy to the floor.

Behind the Christmas tree.

You would find the small hole that lead to Marley's bed.

Marley slept soundly. He was as snug as…, well a mouse next to a fireplace! He was very snug indeed! Marley was a very happy mouse; he was warm, well fed, and you remember, not stirring.

He didn't hear the clatter on the lawn nor the prancing and pawing of hooves on the roof.

All of the sudden, Marley was shaken awake! Almost shaken out of his bed!

"Hmm," he said groggily, "that sounded a lot like someone coming down the chimney with a bound!"

Marley got out of his bed to see what was the matter and peered out the door into the darkness. His eyes became accustomed to the light from the moon as it shone through the big front window. Marley could see a cloud of soot and ash settling on the hearth in front of the fireplace. He also heard some muffled grumbling coming from inside the fireplace.

Timidly he rounded the corner. There in the fireplace Marley saw a rather sturdy gentleman in a beautiful red suit, slightly tarnished with ashes and soot, lying wedged in the opening in a rather bewildered heap.

Marley could make out a foot sticking here, an arm over there, and a rather large lumpy bundle, holding up the entire heap.

Marley knew who this was. Although he couldn't read a calendar, nor tell time, he could recognize a Christmas tree and he knew it was dark. This was Christmas Eve and Santa was the in this bewildered heap! How exciting!

"I seem to be a bit stuck," said Santa aloud, "but none the worse for my tumble." He still hadn't noticed the timid little mouse watching from the corner of the hearth.

"Stuck fast though. ...What am I to do now?" Santa asked himself.

"Santa, can I help?" Marley managed to squeak, overcoming his nervousness.

Now we all know that mice don't really talk, but with the magic of Christmas, Santa could understand that the little mouse wanted to help.

"Well," said Santa," a small push against that big red box might allow me to get out of this fix."

A small push was a good thing to have asked for because that would be all that Marley could muster. Did I mention he was a very small mouse? But, muster he did.

Marley went right to work, like a mouse helping a peddler with his pack. He pushed and pushed on the big red box. He poked and prodded. He shuffled and slid. It moved, ever so slightly, so he pushed and pushed some more. Finally, Marley managed to slide the box right out of the bag. The others gifts teetered and tottered, weebled and wobbled, and then…

A big green box fell to the floor.

A yellow box too, and then blue.

Ole Santa was right; with the boxes moved, he was able to get up from the heap. He smiled a broad smile at the mouse and he laughed a hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho!" His eyes twinkled and without another word, he set right to work.

Marley was amazed at how fast Santa filled the stockings and placed gifts under the tree. He could also make out Mr. Moore, the owner of the house, in a shadow, quietly watching with amusement as Santa went about his business. Once all his tasks were complete Santa came back to the fireplace and lay a finger along side his nose. He looked down and with a nod to Marley, up the chimney he rose.

Marley ran to the window in time to see Santa's sleigh moving off into the night. But he heard Santa say, before he got out of sight "Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!"

Marley went back to his snug little bed, but now the excitement of Christmas filled his head. Just as he thought he might never get back to sleep…, it was morning, it was Christmas morning and he woke up.

"Was it all a dream?" He wondered to himself. "Was Santa here? Did I really help him get out of the fireplace?"

No it couldn't be he decided, until he got to his door. There he found a small, mouse-sized stocking filled with mouse-sized treats and Christmas cookies and other things just for him. With the stocking there was a note that simply said;

"Thanks, from Santa."

Now remember I mentioned that Marley couldn't read, well he understood this note very well and he looked forward to next Christmas with excitement.

Marley had made a very special Christmas friend!