So we three sat quietly that Christmas Eve long ago in the big Red House in Angels Camp and waited and waited and waited.
Dad puffed on his pipe, straightened his shirtfront, rocked back and forth on his heels and peered over his thick glasses to the three of us sitting before him.
“Well,” he began, “you might not believe it but it’s practically an unknown fact that all the animals know all about Christmas and the Christ child being born.”
“Ohhh fiddlesticks!” I wailed. “Then how do you know?”
“Oh now, now,” he said, holding up his hands as if to stop an on rushing tide. “Because Christ was born in a stable and stables belong to the animals, so God put it in the heads of all the animals that they should also celebrate the birth of Jesus too.”
I made a soft raspberry sound …“thththththpt!”
My brother glared at me as dad said, “Now, do you want to hear this or not?” Nancy whined again begging dad to tell her why Santa wasn’t coming. “He is, he is, “ dad told her.
Dad straightened his vest, looked at his pocket watch and continued. “Ever since that night down to this it’s a fact that at the stroke of midnight every animal will stand up to honor the Christ child.” Dad folded his hands across his chest, gave his pipe a puff and waited.
My brother’s eyes shone with excitement because that night was Christmas Eve and it wasn’t too long before Christmas would be here. The stroke of twelve was only 3 hours away.
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