Once upon a time, I had a lot of time on my hands (apparently) and wrote a short story about Christmas. Being the intelligent person that I was, I didn't finish it until after Christmas, and decided that it would stay safely on my hard drive until the next holiday season. Which was a bad idea, since my hard drive did not survive that long. However, thanks to the miracle of gmail, I've discovered the story again and this week am presenting it in segments. You can read Part 1 here; this is Part 2:
“I can tell you what Christmas is all about” said Linus from Peanuts, who had magically appeared in the middle of the group. “I can tell you the True Meaning of Christmas. Lights, please”
In the fields near Bethlehem, there sat certain shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the lord came upon them, and they were sore afraid.
“RUN AWAY!” shouted the first shepherd (history, sadly, does not remember their names) and proceeded to do just that.
“Wait!” the angel shouted “I bring glad tidings! This day in Bethlehem there is a baby born, a savior, in a manger!”
“Uh…” the second shepherd said “I think you may have a wrong number.”
“Plus,” the third shepherd added “only animals are born in mangers. Is a pig going to save the world?”
“Stupid humans…” the angel mumbled, as he went off to find another group more receptive to God’s Message.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, three wise men noticed a bright new star in the sky. Because the star seemed to be getting increasingly brighter, and because of the somewhat shoddy nature of their astronomical training, they decided that this star was in fact no star, but a meteor headed straight for the earth. Using some simple algebra, they determined that Earth had a little less than two weeks left before impact.
“Damn” Balthasar said “Two weeks…wow…well, there’s only one thing to do, I guess…”
“Send a spaceship up with our non-existent nuclear weapons in an attempt to destroy it?” said Melchior.
“No” Balthasar responded “go on vacation! Exotic Bethlehem, here we come!”
And so, the three wise men got on the phone with their three not-so-wise travel agents. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, it is nearly impossible to get a flight around the holidays. They tried everything they could think of to get on a flight.
“I don’t mind not having an Aisle seat” Caspar told his travel agent “I’ll even fly economy…it’s that important!”
“Look, if you won’t accept Visa, I’ll give you a partridge in a pear tree!” Melchior said.
Still, the travel agents would not budge. For twelve days the three wise men begged, pleaded with and attempted to blackmail the travel agents, to no avail. On the twelfth day, though, they managed to reach a deal: three economy class tickets on Air Judea in exchange for Twelve Drummers Drumming, Eleven Pipers Piping, Ten Lords a-leaping, Nine Ladies Dancing, Eight Maids a-Milking, Seven Swans a-Swimming, Six Geese a-Laying, Five Golden Rings, Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves and a Partridge in a Pear Tree—a hefty sum, but one the wise men were willing to pay.
Once the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they realized that they were not quite as wise as they had thought. Because they had not made any hotel reservations, and the holiday rush was still going on (Bethlehem’s ski slopes were legendary in the Roman world), they ended up staying in a manger with a young couple with a small baby.
The baby cried all night long their first night there, and nothing they did could silence him. They offered bribes—Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh—but nothing would make the baby shut up. To make matters worse, a little drummer boy had shown up and was going pa-rump-a-pum-pum, rump-a-pum-pum, rump-a-pum-pum, all night long. Worst of all, the star slowly faded away and the three no-longer-wise men realized their mistake: there was no meteor threatening Earth, and they had spent their entire fortunes on plane tickets.
In the end, the three formerly-wise men got jobs at the local Wal-Mart, and they lived happily ever after.
“And that’s what Christmas is all about” Linus concluded.
“Gee, I totally understand now” Santa responded, not entirely unsarcastically.
Slowly, then, the group of embittered Christmas personages got to their feet, and surrounded a small tree. Together, they began to sing to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angel Sings”, “loo-oo-oo-oo, loo-oo-oo-oo…”
“God bless us, every one” said Tiny Tim, who had shown up simply for the purpose of providing a heartwarming ending.Fin.