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.