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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Leprechaun Christmas
by Chuck

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Patty and her brother Padric were sad. They had lost their parents and had been sent away to another city to live with their Grandmother and Grandfather. Their grandparents were kindly, but poor. Now it was Christmas and times were hard. First the car broke down making it difficult for Grandpa to get much work. Next, the oven broke and Grandma had to make due with the microwave. It was OK but she could no longer cook the tasty food that Patty and Padric loved so much and, worst of all she could not bake her famous Christmas cookies.

It was going to be a very bleak Christmas and Patty and Padric were very sad. Worst of all, Santa Claus did not know where they had moved to so even he wouldn't be coming this year.

But Grandpa had never been one to despair. As tough as things became he would always quote one of his famous sayings like "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" or, another favorite, "count your blessings and be thankful you don't have the problems that other people have to face". And, when things were really bad he would always smile and say, "don't worry, things have to get better tomorrow". But Patty and Padric were still sad.

So, one morning shortly before Christmas Grandpa announced at breakfast that they must begin preparing for Christmas. Patty and Padric didn't believe anything could be done but had no choice but to follow him. They went first to the nearby park where the caretakers were cutting branches off some trees. Grandpa wished them a good day and asked if he could take a branch. They said "OK" and he selected a branch from an evergreen for their Christmas tree.

Patty and Padric were not impressed but had no choice but to follow Grandpa on his next quest. They continued through the park as he had them look for bottle caps and other shiny items to trim the tree with. It soon became an adventure as Patty and Padric began scampering around seeking shiny things to trim their tree with. Meanwhile, Grandpa began picking up old soda bottles and cans.

When they got home they set up their pathetic little tree in the living room and decorated it. It wasn't much but Patty and Padric felt a feeling of pride in their accomplishment and a growing confidence that maybe Grandpa was right that things would get better. Grandpa then took them to the store where they turned in the cans and bottles for the refund which gave them the extra money needed to buy a box of animal shaped cookies along with the rest of the groceries. Patty and Padric did not know what Grandpa planned to do with the cookies but were now certain that it would be fun.

While the three were in the park looking for their pathetic little Christmas tree, they were spotted by O'Rourke, the leprechaun who lived in the park. He observed them and was impressed with the way the grandfather was inspiring the children to look at the possibilities rather than despairing. Being a busy leprechaun, O'Rourke decided to dispatch one of his lazier assistants, Barou, to follow the three and find out more.

Barou, did as he was told and followed them. At the end of the day he reported back to O'Rourke about how the family's stove and car were broken and how they had no money for Christmas but were still happy and optimistic. O'Rourke called the Leprechaun king who said he would call Santa Claus and get the family taken care of. But when the Leprechaun king called the North Pole the phone was answered by a surely elf who told him that Santa was too busy to talk with the king and that Santa's trip was all planned and it was too late to make any changes.

Well, the Leprechaun King did not like this one bit. So he called O'Rourke back and told him to call as many leprechauns as possible to help this family.

That night the O'Rourke and a dozen leprechauns sprang into action. Since tomorrow was Christmas Eve they had to work fast. They first went to the country and found a nice big tree which they cut down and brought back. Then two leprechauns crept into Grandma and Grandpa's house to check on the stove while two other leprechauns checked out the car. They soon determined what was wrong with both of them and promptly fixed them. They then went to the store and brought food and presents for Christmas and found some ornaments to trim the tree.

As Grandma, Grandpa, Patty and Padric spent the day preparing for their meager Christmas celebration, the leprechauns worked furiously getting everything ready for a big Christmas surprise. By lunchtime the leprechauns had everything ready so they had lunch.

Back at the house Patty and Padric were becoming more and more excited as Christmas Eve approached. They were still sad that Santa would not be coming but they were sure things would be just fine for Christmas as Grandpa had promised. But they would miss the Christmas cookies. Just then Grandma called them to the kitchen and gave them each a butter knife and a plate. She then put three little bowls, one containing red frosting, one green and the third white, in front of them. Grandpa then brought out the animal crackers and Patty and Padric soon were engrossed in spreading different colors of frosting on the cookies. It was so much fun that they forgot all of their problems and began to feel that this was turning out to be their best Christmas ever.

Soon it was dark and after their meager supper of boiled potatoes and bread Grandpa announced that since it was Christmas Eve they should go to bed early. Patty and Padric started to complain that since Santa was not coming there was no need to go to bed early, but they saw a gleam in Grandpa's eye and scampered off to bed quickly. Grandpa followed them into the bedroom with a book under his arm. Once they were tucked in under the warm feather comforters Grandma had brought down from the attic, Grandpa opened the book and read them the story of baby Jesus being born in the manger on this night. Snuggled under their warm comforters, each thought about how fortunate they were to have their nice warm beds when the baby Jesus had to sleep in straw. As Grandpa continued to read they tried to picture in their minds the bright star, the angles singing in the heavens, the shepherds making their way to the manger with their little gifts and the Three Wise Men coming with their rich gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Before Grandpa finished reading both were sound asleep, dreaming of the marvelous day they would have tomorrow.

As Grandpa turned out the light and went to get Grandma to take her to bed. But Grandma was concerned that he had raised the children's hopes for the next day too much – they were so poor and a small plate of frosted animal crackers and evergreen branch would not make for much of a Christmas no matter what Grandpa said about things being better tomorrow. But Grandpa smiled and told her that if she had faith and believed things would be better they would. But she just gave a weary shake of her head and headed toward the bedroom.

As soon as the lights went out in the house, Barou pulled out his cell phone and called O'Rourkee and the others who immediately came over and went to work. The little evergreen branch was moved to the back porch and the big tree brought in and decorated. Barou was dispatched to the roof of the O'Malley home two blocks away where he was told to sit and wait for Santa. Two leprechauns went to work on fixing the oven while two others worked on the car. Others brought in presents, decorated or worked on preparing the dinner.

It was a cold, clear night as the shivering Barou sat on the roof top waiting for Santa. He found a sheltered spot next to the chimney and fell asleep. While dreaming of his warm bed and tomorrow's Christmas feast, he was suddenly awakened by the jingling of bells. Awaking with a start he saw a sleigh full of toys and eight tiny reindeer flying toward the roof. In a moment he was face to face with Santa Claus himself. Barou told Santa about Patty and Padric and asked him to take them some presents. Santa was upset that his elf had not updated the records about where Patty and Padric had moved and very upset that this cranky elf had refused to take the Leprechaun King's message. But poor Santa, was on a tight schedule and he did not have time to go over to Patty and Padric's home. But he said that he always carried extra toys in the bottom of his bag for emergencies like this and would try to stop by on his way back to the North Pole.

Barou scampered back to Patty and Padric's home and told O'Rourkee. For the rest of the night O'Rourkee and his team of leprechauns worked furiously getting everything ready. The sky was still dark when they finished but Santa had not yet come. As the leprechauns anxiously waited the sky began to turn gray. The sun would soon appear and then Santa could not stop since children would be getting up then. Just as it appeared the sun would arise from its slumber the leprechauns heard a faint jingling of bells in the distance. Seconds latter eight reindeer pulling Santa in a nearly empty sleigh flew toward the roof.

With minutes to spare, Santa jumped out of the sleigh and dove toward the chimney motioning for O'Rourkee and Barou to follow. Quick as a wink they flew across the room to the tree and the three of them pulled out presents to put under the tree. Then back to the chimney went Santa with O'Rourkee and Barou rushing to keep up.

As Patty and Padric slept they dreamed of Santa landing on the roof. They could hear the jingle of his bells and the sound of the reindeer's hooves on the roof. Then there was a loud THUMP as Barou landed hard. Was this a dream or was it real? As they rubbed the sleep out of their eyes and tried to determine what was dream and what was real they heard more little noises from the living room. Out of bed they went and flew toward the dark living room. They arrived just in time to see Barou scramble up the chimney. As they were pondering this strange sight they again heard the jingling of bells and the prancing of hooves'.

Meanwhile, on the roof Santa was preparing to leave with his now empty sack and sleigh. Turning to O'Rourkee and his team, Santa invited them to join him in the sleigh and come to the North Pole to celebrate Christmas with him and Mrs. Claus. They quickly jumped in the sleigh and started off. All except for poor Barou who was still struggling up the chimney. Climbing out of the chimney, Barou saw the sleigh heading across the roof. He made a mad dash for it and, just as the sleigh reached the end of the roof and lifted into the air, he jumped, grabbed the rung of the sleigh and hung on for dear life as they flew toward the North Pole.

Hearing the Patty and Padric in the living room and the commotion on the roof, Grandpa jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Throwing open the window he stuck his head out just in time to catch a glimpse of a sleigh, drawn by eight tiny reindeer and with a leprechaun hanging from the rear like a flag, vanish into the northern sky.

With the children and Grandpa running around the house, Grandma was soon awake and, smelling the delicious smells of food cooking, flew to the kitchen and discovered her oven full of freshly cooked food.

As Grandma, Grandpa and the children sat in the living room opening presents, eating the cookies and hot chocolate made by the leprechauns the leprechauns were landing at the North Pole where Mrs. Claus and the elves had a huge Christmas feast awaiting for them.

An it was a very Merry Christmas for all as both leprechauns and the children enjoyed the day and learned that hope is the most precious of possessions.

Copyright © 2005-2006 by Charles J. Nugent Jr.

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