Celebrating The Christmas Story — Old Tales Told A New Way
We’ve all heard the timeless tale of the coming of the Christmas Child.
But what if the people who wrote those stories got it wrong? What if they missed some important information?
What if someone else was there, and saw the whole thing? Here, for the first time, is his account of the blessed event.
“Psst. You, in the pew! Look over here. No, not up there…down here, in the corner.
What — you never met a talking mouse before? Well, now you have… Pleased to meetcha. I’m Mac, the church mouse.
Yes, yes I know, I look so darn cuddly in my tiny, old-fashioned vest and cute little hand-knit stocking cap…My wife made it, and, yes, she thinks I look cute in it too. So do the children, all seventy-four of them…Thank you. Yes, it’s a lot of mouths to feed.
Thank-you… now then…
It’s Christmas Eve, and here you are all ready to hear the Christmas story.
But it’s not the whole truth. And that hymn-writer fella, that Charles Wesley? Well, he got it wrong, too. But, I can tell you the real story, if you’re interested, because I was there…
It happened over a thousand years ago, when I first met Harold, but I remember him like it was yesterday…”
Harold shuffled along, avoiding eye-contact, staring down at the shining streets of gold buffed to a radiant glow by millennia of sandalled feet. The other angels jostled him as they streamed by on either side. Not unkindly, mind you, but everyone had places to be. Tasks to complete—halos to shine, wings to fluff, robes to press, preparations for the upcoming, joyous event.
Harold glanced at their eager faces. Their shiny harps and spotless robes. Their beautiful wings rustled as they hurried by, halos in place, sandals un-scuffed and properly latched.
He nervously brushed at the buttery crumbs dusting the front of his robe, wishing, once again, he’d been more restrained at breakfast. Sadly, his attempts to tidy himself only made things worse. His robe was streaked with grease spots and strawberry jam stains.
Harold sighed and tightened his belt — or tried to. His robe billowed and bagged over his ample girth. It refused to be modestly restrained by the double cincture. In despair, he finally took off the belt and slung it ‘round his neck. He decided the tassels made for a rather stylish necktie.
The choir master, peering through his bifocals at his copy of the new oratorio, barely looked up as Harold made his way into the grand rehearsal hall.
Harold sighed again and began his long climb to the very back row of marble tiers.
“Excuse me. Pardon me. Sorry, sorry, didn’t mean to step on you… Excuse me.”
Most of the choristers shifted amiably to let Harold by as he passed through the packed ranks. A few whisked their wings out of the way, as if his touch might soil their feathers. One or two hissed as he trod on their toes.
By the time Harold reached his place in the back row, at the very top, he was red-faced and sweating, puffing hard.
“Please, please,” he prayed, “don’t let me drop my music again.”
Harold’s hands trembled as he unrolled the sheaf of newly-inked parchments, the memory of his last mishap still fresh. The furor as everyone scurried about, chasing the fluttering pages while he’d stood frozen, ashamed by his clumsiness.
Bad enough to be fat, but to be fat and constantly disheveled, and worst of all, clumsy — well, that was just too much to be borne.
Harold had hoped once he passed through the pearly gates, welcomed by Saint Peter himself, that Harold’s former, lumpen persona would fall away. He’d be reborn into a glorious, new, fit body — the one he’d always dreamed could be his — the fit, healthy body in the fit, healthy life he’d struggled so hard to achieve while still on earth.
Saint Peter had responded kindly to the newly-ascended angel’s confusion. “But, Harold, you are loved just as you are. You always have been. That doesn’t change just because you’re here.”
Hot and flustered from his climb, Harold stared at the music. It was stately. Magnificent. Better than magnificent — it was perfect. The tenor part was challenging. The harmony lines intricate and well-developed. Certainly worthy of the occasion.
He sighed again. He’d penned a few songs back on earth — nothing much really, just some ballads. A few lullabies. But they had been well-loved. Nothing even approaching this in grandeur, though.
As rehearsal ended and everyone rushed away to complete their preparations, Harold slipped out the back and floated silently to earth.
He gazed up at the night sky, shivering a bit in the chill of pre-dawn. A single star shone down over a tiny cow-byre. A couple of shepherds chattering excitedly pushed by Harold to kneel in the stable doorway.
“Is he here?” asked one. His rough voice was low, reverent.
“Are we too late?” The second shepherd was younger, eager. A few ewes, their lambs in tow, straggled along behind him, baaing sheepishly.
The lovely, dark-haired woman smiled. “Soon.” She bent forward suddenly, straining. The tall man rushed to her side. Taking both her tiny hands in his large, calloused ones, he gently guided her to the straw-filled manger.
Harold blushed. This was women’s business. And her husband’s. He wandered behind the byre, splashed across a gurgling little creek and perched on the top step of the stile.
“And that’s where I found him. He’d plucked a reed from the near-by brook and was carving it into a flute. I asked him what an angel was doing sitting on a stile behind an old cow barn…
“Making a flute,” he says.
“I can see that” says I, “But why aren’t you up there playing a harp?” I point up at the frosty, cloudless night sky.
“I’m waiting for the baby,” he says, turning the reed pipe over in his hands.
“You gonna play that thing?” I ask.
“I thought I might sing him a lullaby,” he says.
I wait— he just stares at the little flute. Then he kinda shakes his head and looks sad. “They already have the music planned,” he says. “It’s perfect, magnificent.”
“But they aren’t here yet. You are. What if they’re late?”
Sure enough, just then, the lady makes a sound, kind of a soft gasp, Then there’s a rustling noise — something being laid in the manger’s straw. Then the shepherds are all oohing and aahing.
“He’s here — the baby’s here — do something — sing!” I shout, dancing up and down.
Harold squeezes his eyes shut like he’s praying, then he pipes a phrase on his flute, and starts to sing, and bless me, it’s so lovely I can’t help myself — I join in, too…”
Harold’s lullaby floated up into the night sky in the purest, sweetest, most beautiful, angelic voice ever heard — a voice filled with love for the tiny child.
Heaven itself grew still. God, on his throne, paused to listen.
“The story tellers got this next part right, for ‘…suddenly, there was with them a heavenly host, praising and singing, Glory in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all…’ as the rest of the heavenly choir joined in Harold’s serenade.
But it was Harold’s music Mary and Joseph heard. The song of an unkempt, overweight angel and a tiny mouse. It was Harold’s humble lullaby which greeted Bethlehem’s child.
So, this Christmas Eve, when you join in the old carols, celebrating a winter’s night so long ago, remember who sang for a baby in a manger, on that first Christmas to welcome the one come to teach us all the meaning of love…”
“Hark! The angel, Harold, sings, ‘Glory to the newborn king’…”
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