On Christmas Eve in 2010, little Chloe stood on a stool in the bathroom, her dear mother brushing her hair.
Chloe fidgeted and fussed, bawled and brayed – her mother jerked, jostled and prayed, clipping a butterfly to her tangled braid.
“Settle down now dear, bed time is here and after midnight Santa will come. He packed Barbies and bikes, ponies and Fisher-Price, and he won’t stop here unless we are done. Now go count your sheep, don’t make a peep, and lay your sweet noggin to sleep.”
“Help your sister to bed – she’s already fed – and in the morning you will find a treat.”
Her freshly laundered jammies snuggly and fuzzy, Chloe took Alexa’s sticky hand, and helped her between her teddy bear sheets.
Palms on the mattress, Chloe pulled herself up, a knee akimbo on the edge. She slipped down abruptly, jumped up adroitly, and landed in the middle of bed.
The little girl wedged herself in, clasped her hands at her chest, her stomach creeping up to her throat. Christmas day was near, Santa’s sleigh was in the air, and Chloe strained her ears to hear what she could hear.
The clock blinked nine. The cuckoo in the hall chimed. Alexa sighed in the night.
There was a creak on the floor. A knock on the door and light gently swept in the room. A pitter-patter of feet, Chloe pinched at her cheek, it was true! Santa had brought her a treat.
There was a thump on the bed, a warm body did tread, and dear Chloe she nearly fled.
It was merely her kitty Rosy, always being nosy, come to pay a visit at night.
She curled at Chloe’s feet, mewed softly and sweet and soon she too was asleep.
Chloe stroked Rosy’s fur, and heard the murmur of her purr and wished she too was so meek.
She peered at her kitty and remembered a story she learned that morning in church. On Christmas Eve afore the morn that Christ was born, the animals in Mary’s stable crowded round the manger.
Through the power of the Lord, and with the grace of wonder’s word, the sheep and donkeys spake. Crowing hymns of awe, caws of praise and reveling in gospel’s wake.
In light of this lesson, good Chloe did question, just what her Rosy had to say. Did her pet have the gift? Was she really that shift? Or was the night going to end in dismay?
“Nonsense,” she thought. “My Rosy can’t speak. The logic is weak. And if I don’t fall asleep, then Santa will leave me cheap.”
Chloe rolled back and forth, checking the clock, tugging at her frock, and ruing her second cup of hot choc.
“Alexa,” she whispered. “Hey sister can you hear me or are you deep in your dreams?”
No answer she heard, except a breezy snore, and Chloe returned to her restless mores.
With every minute that churned, and every hour that turned, our heroine grew more and more bleak. No presents she would earn. No toys she would reap, just coal, socks and watching everybody else take their turn.
What was that? What was that sound?
Was that a jingle in the sky? Was that big red guy flying nearer and nearer to her sty?
Chloe crawled under the covers, her eyelids smothered, our poor girl feeling like a louse.
Then there was another peep like a mouse, this time even closer, and Chloe peered from under the comforter.
What time was it then? Chloe peaked to see the number blink 10. Uh-oh, she thought, no gifts will I get ever again.
Her eyes became wet, her lip was aquiver, worried about Santa’s decree.
Then she heard it again. What could it be? Was someone trying to get her to flee?
There it was once more, more distinct than before – “Be easy my me dear, there is no need to fear.”
“Alexa,” she hissed. “Could that be you? Whatever do you mean.”
“No,” said Rosy. “It was me.”