Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chesty McStrutter and the Groundhog Day Christmas

Chesty McStrutter and the Groundhog Day Christmas

by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson

Just less than a mile away from the road

In the shade of a Christmas tree was the abode

Of a young groundhog named Chesty McStrutter

Who is furry and small and talks with a stutter.

Groundhogs, you know, sleep when the weather turns cold.

So Chesty had never about Christmas been told.

He knew nothing of presents, of cookies, of wreaths,

Nor the value of the tree his home was beneath.

To him just a pine tree of triangular shape,

Not something to decorate, or with tinsel to drape.

Then one Cold December, while poor Chesty slept,

A family up to his shade tree they crept,

And decided his tree was just the right fit,

So they got out their axe, and lickety split,

They chopped it down and carried it far,

Then loaded it up on the top of their car.

They took the tree home, to decorate it with lights,

Put a star up on top to remember the night,

When Christ was born in Old Bethlehem

And God came there to dwell among men.

The tree would bring such bright Christmas joys

To the home of a sweet little girl and two boys,

And on Christmas day would be surrounded with toys,

For Santa always knows, and therefore he goes

Where the love of a family's warmth brightly glows.

But back in the woods a mile from the road

Sleeping soundly still in his altered abode

Was little Chesty, unaware of the change

Unaware of the difference, dreaming of nothing strange

Of acorns and nuts growing on trees of green,

Flowers and butterflies and the beauty of Spring,

But now the starlight shown bright on his door

Where only the shade had stood just before

And sleep he did soundly for another month more.

And when the calendar said February two

He began to stir as all ground hogs do,

And just as the morning sun outside did rise

He stretched, he yawned, he rubbed his eyes

And made his way to the door of his hole

And popped his head out there just like a mole,

But unlike a mole a ground hog can see

And there before him as plain as could be

Was his shadow which was a surprising sight

That filled him with dread and filled him with fright

He wasn't ready for that kind of scare

For never before had his shadow been there.

"Whwhwhwhat is going on? I-I-I d-d-don't know

Where did m-m-m-my sweet little shade t-tree go?"

But rather than try and figure the reason,

He went back to sleep for the rest of the season.

Another six weeks he returned to his sleeper

And winter set in much colder and deeper.

Though it seemed long the time finally passed

And Chesty's winter sleep was over at last.

Shadow or not, spring now was in bloom

And Chesty would have to get out of his room.

He went out the door, just like before

And took it all in for a moment or more,

He wondered,  "W-w-where oh where is my tree

It wouldn't just l-l-leave, h-how can this be?

He asked the squirrels, he asked a bird

He checked with the fox, but no one had heard.

But a wise old owl he asked said, "Who"

Which Chesty thought meant that he knew.

So Chesty asked the owl about what he had seen

And so  then the owl explained the whole thing.

He told him about Christmas, the whole celebration

And about the traditions of every nation,

But especially he told him about Christmas trees

About ornaments, tinsel, and what a child sees

When it's Christmas morning and there all around

Packages, presents, and gifts can be found

And how it's all due to the most humble birth

Of God the one who created the Earth,

Created the stars, created the sea,

Created us all, yes you and yes me.

Chesty was amazed at how he had missed it

He'd never known any of these wonders existed.

"H-How M-m-much I have missed while I was s-s-s-sleeping

Wh-wh-while you this s-s-secret from me were k-keeping."

So he made up his mind on that very spot

To stay up next winter, and give it a shot.

"I w-w-want to s-s-see Santa, and Reindeer and snow,

I w-w-want to g-give presents wrapped up in a b-b-bow,

And see a Christmas tree with l-l-lights all a g-g-glow."

He trained all summer, sleeping extra at night,

Hoping to get enough sleep to put up a fight,

For he knew when the temperature started to drop

His body'd shut down and his eyelids would flop

And all of his hopes would slowly fade

Dashing all of the plans that his heart had made

Then again he'd miss Christmas and all of the cheer

And half to wait through another whole year.

He worked hard through August, and then in September,

He wished through October, and prayed in November,

And then it was here, the month of December.

Just to his luck or was it Providence

A warm spell gave the little ground hog a chance.

But right then with just four days to go,

The temperature dropped suddenly to seven below,

And wouldn't you know it on came the snow.

Chesty's eyelids got heavy, his legs got weak

Though he tried so hard to just get one peek

He collapsed in his room in a pitiful heap,

And there the poor groundhog passed out fast asleep.

When his friends the other animals later found out

That poor Chesty had lost his bout

They thought of a plan, a trick up their sleeve

And as the dusk fell on that Christmas Eve

They brought him a tree and put up the lights

Filled up his house with Christmas delights

Like stockings, and wreaths, ivy and tinsel

Garlands and cards made with paper and pencil,

And when they had finished decorating the place

They said a small prayer and thanked God for his Grace,

and for sending His son, and for saving their souls

Then went home to their burrows, their nests, and their holes.

On Christmas Day the forest was quiet and still,

No sound on the tree tops, nor valley, nor hill

The animals held off their celebration until,

Chesty could wake, so he, too, could take part

And the gift giving, and singing, and loving could start

For they'd seen the desire from deep in his heart.

So all through January they anxiously waited

Counting the days, with hopeful breath bated

Despite the anticipation the time it flew

And before they knew it was February two.

Then just a few minutes after the dawn,

It all started slow, with a twitch, and a yawn,

Followed closely by two tears and three sighs

Then Chesty awoke and he opened his eyes,  

But before the third tear fell he found his surprise.

All of his friends gathered round just outside

Patiently waiting and smiling with pride

Then right when Chesty popped his head out

All of his friends exclaimed with a Shout,

"Merry Christmas dear Chesty, we thought that we'd visit

And bring you some Christmas so you wouldn't miss it."

Chesty's heart was so filled with love,

And though the sun shined down from above,

His shadow this time didn't make him scared

How could it knowing that all his friends truly cared

And he really was thankful for all that they shared.

So he said right back, "M-m-m-merry Christmas to y-you

Y-y-you are so very kind and f-f-faithful and true!"

They all were so happy being together that day

For Christmas really isn't a day anyway

Instead it's a truth about God and his love

And how it's here with us, not far up above

So dear child remember the message this sends

For when you are surrounded by the love of your friends

The Spirit of Christmas never really ends.

You can celebrate Christmas in both cold and warm weather

For Christ is where ever friends gather together.

Painting by Ruth Bloom