WITH THE DISCLAIMER THEY CAN USE MY WORK FOR OWN WISHES I OFFER THIS AS A MORATORIUM FOR MY JASPER:
i wrote this years ago, for him
I will begin our tale in the time honored tradition of, “Once upon a time”. For all truly wonderful stories do happen only once in time and the lessons they carry ring true through all the ages. And so we begin…
Once upon a time…
In a city, much like your own, there lived a dog. He was a dog like all the millions of dogs in all the millions of cities around the world, save that on this particular wintry morning he became the one dog in all the world to have a most unique adventure. He would become one of a select few to know the truth about the world and all of creation and it would transform him from a simple beast, to a creature of true love. Or so I am told.
His name was Jasper and he was a brindle boxer, which is to say he was a lush chocolate brown with black stripes. His feet were white as was his chest and he looked as though he wore a tuxedo jacket. His black mask was centered on two of the darkest brown and innocent eyes anyone had ever seen. His ears hung long and one drooped a little and his tail was cut stubby so that when he tried to wag the thing his entire rump shook as though he were shivering cold. And he was love.
In the entire two years of his life he had never known harsh language or action towards him by anyone whom he had met. No one ever struck him in anger or malice, nor did he have reason to mistrust anyone ever. All he had known was pure unfettered love and so the world, to him, was love and so was he.
The source of his perfect world was his human, Mommy. She came to his home when he was a pup and brought him to the place that was now his home. She made certain that he was the center of her world and showered him with kisses and hugs and all sorts of yummy snacks.
They would set and watch other people through a window she could control with a small box, as she rubbed his head and tickled his nose. She never petted, for that was what you did to lesser beings and she did not own him, for that would detract from his special nature as her friend, her confidant, her wonderful little man.
Unlike most humans, Mommy could look into his eyes and almost understand what he was trying to convey to her. She had the basics, feed me, love me, I need to go outside. But then on special occasions she almost understood how he felt as a person and would give him extra special hugs when he was feeling lonely or a little sick. She was exceptionally bright for a human and he knew that with all her heart. She loved him, always love.
He never left her side. When she was in the rain box, something she called a shower, he was there to lap up the water that got out of the box or to taste the cremes and goo she would rub herself with. When she slept he would cuddle behind her knees and lay his head on her legs to keep her warm.
When she was sick he would set beside her on the couch and watch and wait until she got better, and when she was happy they would go out into the yard and plant flowers, he was very good at digging holes for her. And when the work was done they would play with his ball.
The only time she would leave him alone was when she had to go to her work. He would walk into his room and lie down on the many blankets and sip his water from his very own water bottle as she closed the door and went out into the world, only to return to his exuberant joy at their reunification.
And so it was that life went by for him. She loved him, he loved her and they were everything to each other. Through the warm days of summer to the cold nights of snowy winter, two people who knew only pure undying love for each other, as life should be.
Now to each Eden there is a serpent and to this garden there was a squirrel. As we all know squirrels are not the friendliest of folk. They spend their days in miserly pursuit of food hording it away for snowy days.
This particular squirrel was the worst of the bunch. He had claimed the entire back yard as his territory and no one was allowed to go into it lest they face his mighty squirrel wrath. Every moment he had he would forage for food and chase everyone who came into it out of his land.
Jasper didn’t mind being chased around by the little furry fiend, he thought it was great fun to run about and play tag, he thought that he and the squirrel were friends. There were even days when Jasper would stack nuts at the base of the tree to help him with his hording. Squirrel, however thought Jasper to be a stupid brute that was only getting in his way and he plotted and schemed trying to find a way to get Jasper out of the picture once and for all. And on this one particular day, he had gotten his wish.
It was the day before Christmas when Jasper sat in the snow watching Squirrel stand on a branch. Squirrel always sat and watched in the early morning hours, making sure no one would come into his yard to steal his nuts.
“Don’t you have anything better to do?” Squirrel asked.
“Nope.” Jasper replied.
“So if I come down from here you’re gonna chase me all over the yard right?”
“Yep.” Jasper answered.
“What do you plan on doing if you catch me, eat me?”
“Yuck!” Jasper snorted.
“Just chase me?”
“Why?” the squirrel asked.
“It’s what we do for fun ain’t it?”
“It’s no fun for me.” The squirrel huffed as he nibbled on a nut.
“You sure?” Jasper asked in disbelief.
“I am far too busy to be bothered by stupid games. I have food to collect and very important things to do.”
“But what about the nuts I leave for you every day?” Jasper said sadly.
“I don’t need your help. But thank you for them anyway.” The squirrel snorted as he chewed on the nut. “Now please go away!”
Jasper sat looking up at the squirrel with sad eyes and a breaking heart. He thought he had made a friend and was terribly mistaken. The squirrel sat there and for a moment felt a little guilt over what he had done and allowed Jasper to keep watch with him. Jasper was faster than he was so if another squirrel came close to the yard, he could chase that one around and keep the yard safe.
“Jasper!” a voice rang from inside the house.
“Jasper you have to come in now.”
“Gotta go! Mommy’s calling.” Jasper said as he bolted for the door.
“Can I watch the yard for you later?”
“I suppose,” The squirrel huffed as he climbed down the tree. “But no more chasing!”
Bounding through the door Jasper came to a halt at Mommy’s feet, his eyes filled with happiness. You see whenever he came in she would open the wonder door and give him yummy snacks for being so good and today was no exception.
“I have to go finish my Christmas shopping so I need you to go to your room and be good while I’m away. Can you do that for me?”
Without hesitation Jasper walked into his room lay down and smiled at Mommy as she closed the door and went out of the house. He lay there waiting for a few moments until he fell asleep.
“Wake up you stupid dog! Wake up!” Squirrel yelled as he rattled the bars of Jaspers door.
“What? What is it?” Jasper asked in fear.
“She left without her Christmas list! You have to go save her!” Squirrel was frantic.
“What? Why? Huh?” Jasper was very confused.
“Your Mommy is in great danger! If she doesn’t have her Christmas list, she could die!”
“OH NO!” Jasper cried. “How?”
“Don’t you know about Christmas?” Squirrel asked pushing and pulling on the handles to Jaspers door.
“No.” he responded.
“Christmas is the worst day of the year for people. It’s the time when an avenging ghost named Jesus rises from the dead to take the souls of bad people to the underworld forever.”
“Mommy’s not a bad person!” Jasper defended her.
“I’m sure she’s not. But if she does not perform the correct ritual for Christmas, she will be doomed!” Squirrel said as he opened the last latch keeping Jaspers door shut.
“What ritual?” He demanded as he sprung from his room.
“Set down and I’ll tell you.” Squirrel said with a fiendish grin.
“Every year people must give things to other people for Christmas. They write down a list of things that the other people want. Then they have to bring the offerings home and wrap them up in strange colored paper and stuff them under the sacrificial, tree before midnight.
“If they don’t get everything on the list then the herald of Jesus, a man known as Santa Claw’s the Red, sneaks into everyone’s homes to check the list. If they have done all the right things and offered up all the right stuff Santa Claws the Red will leave the home undisturbed, but if there is one thing missing, one light bulb out of place Santa claws will take the first born child to the roof and smear the shingles with the blood of the child so on Christmas morning the ghost of Jesus comes and strikes dead the rest of the family and dragging their immortal souls to a place of eternal torment and damnation, a place known as Fort Lauderdale, the graveyard of America, where they spend all of eternity in torturous pain never to return!”
“NO!” Jasper howled in fright.
“There is a chance to save her however. The Santa Claw’s might be bribed. If you leave food out for him an offering of milk and cookies, he may take pity on her and spare her soul from eternal doom, it rarely ever works though.”
“We need to leave the offering!” Jasper said bravely as he walked over to the refrigerator.
With a great mighty thump of his head on the door, it swung open to reveal its contents. There on the bottom shelf sat a fat jug of milk which he pawed at until it fell from its place spilling all over the floor.
“Is this enough?” Jasper asked Squirrel.
“It looks sufficient.” Squirrel sneered. “But now you need cookies.”
Jasper ran over to a cupboard just behind him and again with a mighty thump of his head on the door, it swung open just enough for him to get a foot in to open it. He rummages and fuddled around until he found a big bag of cookies which he sprinkled all over the floor.
“Now for the chant!” Squirrel said as he stepped up to the puddle of milk looking very official and reverent
“He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out who lives or who dies,
Santa Claws is coming tonight!”
Squirrel fell to one knee and looked very weak and tired. Jasper ran to his aid, but Squirrel pushed him aside.
“I’ll be, I’ll be alright. All we can do now is pray.”
“I have to save her!” Jasper cried as he jumped and bobbed all over the house in fear.
“HOW DO I SAVE HER?!”
“The list!” squirrel said as he jumped to Jasper’s face and slapped him.
“You must take the list to her.” Squirrel said as he leaped to the floor twitching his tail.
“What does it look like?” Jasper asked as he settled down. “I’ve never seen one before.”
“Think dog! Was there ever a night when she sat down writing?”
“She was in the sleeping room one night writing down something! Maybe it’s in there!”
Off they went into the sleeping room where Jasper put his nose to work in search of the paper she was writing on. Clothes and shoes, blankets and pillows went flying everywhere until he saw the paper laying on her nightstand.
Squirrel looked it over once or twice, tasted it and licked the ink. He sat pondering for a moment and declared that the faint hint of candy canes and fruit cake had confirmed it was indeed the list.
“Now go!” The squirrel said.
“Find your Mommy and give her the list before it is too late!”
Jasper ran to the back door and sat down waiting patiently.
“What are you doing?” Squirrel asked.
“I need my thing.”
“The thing I have to wear before I can leave the yard.”
“WHAT THING?!” Squirrel demanded.
Jasper walked over to a hook on the wall and began to pull on his leash. He pulled and pulled until hook and all came off the wall.
“You have to fasten the thing around my neck. I CAN’T leave home without it.”
Squirrel slapped himself in the forehead and wiped his hand down his face. He then picked up Jaspers collar and fiddled with it until he got it open. He then wrapped it around Jaspers neck closed the clasp and stuffed the list inside the collar.
“This is the most important thing you will ever do in your life. If you fail in your mission, you will become what people call an orphan. With no Mommy and no home, they will take you away to a very bad place and you will never return home. You must save your Mommy in order to save yourself and the entire world.” The squirrel said stroking Jaspers cheek.
“I will not fail you.” Jasper said with a grave determination.
“Now go.” Squirrel said opening the small door that Jasper used to get in and out of his home.
Jasper bounded out of the door and down the back yard, he turned at full pace towards the gate and with a mighty leap, jumped over the top of the fence, squirrel close behind.
“Start at a place they call “the mall”. Squirrel called out to him. “Save the Mommy, save the world!”
Squirrel watched as Jasper sped away into the horizon. And with a slight chuckle and a clapping of hands he turned to his tree and began to climb.
“That has got to be the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.” A rabbit said watching the whole affair.
“It’s a win, win.” He’s gone, I’m free to forage and he’s gone.”
“This will come back to haunt you.” Rabbit said. “Christmas works for us too. Santa Claw’s will come for you.”
“Please!” Squirrel said holding his hand up to Rabbits face. “There is no such thing!”
Jasper ran and ran, the words of Squirrel dancing though his head. All his life he had known only Mommy and her love and to find out now that she could be taken from him forever fueled his desire to save her.
He disliked this Santa fellow as well. No one likes a person who snitches. Vole and Raccoon taught him that. Honesty is the best policy and every one of god’s creatures; big and small are just as important as the other. It is the place of every creature on the planet to look after and uphold the other.
And so he ran, past houses and trees over brook and parking lot, he ran. Desperately looking for the place known as “the mall” until it came to him that he had no idea what a mall was, or even where it was. His pace slowed as the thought came to full fruition in his mind until he found himself setting under a full thick pine tree in a small park.
There he sat looking this way and that but he had no idea what he was looking for. Slowly confusion turned to sadness. And he began to cry at the thought that he would never see Mommy again.
“What’s all that racket then?” a voice broke over his whimpering.
“Who’s there?” Jasper asked drying his eyes.
Jasper looked up to see a crow setting on a branch of the tree. It hopped down form one branch to another until it was standing on top of his head
“So, what’s all the hubbub bub?”
Jasper told him the story that Squirrel had told him, about the vengeance of Jesus and his herald Santa and the list and his mission to save Mommy. He relayed his sadness and fear of never finding the mall and ending up in Fort Lauderdale a doomed and wretched soul.
“Wow.” Crow said amazed. “You fell for that?”
“Fell for what?” Jasper asked bewildered.
“Well other than the names of your frightening tale of woe, every word of that is an utter lie.”
“I don’t understand.” Jasper said.
“It’s not true. It’s a fabrication. Squirrel told you something that was not the truth.”
“Why?” Jasper asked incredulity.
“Well squirrels are not nice people to begin with, but this one sounded particularly cranky. It’s all the nuts they eat, very binding, hard to poo. You see Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
“It is when people all over the world put away their evils, to band together in peace and love. The Jesus fellow he told you about was the first human to come up with the idea and so Christmas was made to honor his death.
“Santa Claws is the guy who travels the world in one night, making sure that everyone gets everything they want for Christmas. There are some people who are not able to even eat, or have a home, so Santa makes sure they get food and clothes and shiny stuff, ooohhh I do love the shiny stuff, the paper and ribbons and… sorry where was I? Oh yeah he does that so they feel better for a day.”
“Huh.” Jasper snorted. “So no dragging disembodied souls to Passaic for an eternity of torture and damnation?”
“Not a one.”
“Huh.” Jasper reiterated.
“You should go home now and wait for your Mommy to get home. She will be missing you I can guarantee that.”
“There is one problem,” Jasper started as he looked all around. “I don’t know where I am.”
“That could be a real problem then. The men in white boxes will be out soon, and they will take you away if you’re found wit out your Mommy around. Keep to the tree’s and listen for bells, jingly bells, SHINY, SHINY…sorry, I do so love shiny things, bells, and Santa comes out to ring bells for money to finance his ride. You find the bells, you find Santa and he will take you home for Christmas. I gotta go, just saw something shiny, gotta have it!”
And off flew crow in search of his shiny thing leaving Jasper alone in a world that was growing darker by the minute. Jasper sat and looked around for a moment not sure which way he should go. His head hung low as he sat waiting for a sign. Just then Crow flew over head with a foot full of silver ribbons and told Jasper to follow him. Jaspers heart leaped with joy as he began to run after Crow.
Crow led him through car filled parking lots and across a schoolyard and past more houses until he could hear the clanging sound of a single bell in the distance.
“You hear that? “Crow asked as he landed on a fire hydrant.
“Santa?” Jasper whispered.
“That’s right. He’s just across the road. But be very careful this road has killed many animals. The rolling box’s don’t care for our kind and will jump on you and squish you flat if they get a chance.”
“Thank you Crow. Thank you so much.”
“My pleasure.” Crow said flapping his wings. “It’s the very least I could do for Christmas. I hope you get your Christmas wish!”
Crow then laughed out loud and took wing to the skies crying “Happy Christmas! OH SHINY gotta have it!”
Jasper walked to the intersection of the road, he saw hundreds of rolling boxes going to and fro oblivious to his being there. Great lumbering noisy things, they were. They smelled bad and made it hard to breath and as the sun sank over the horizon, their eyes began to glow making it hard to see.
Jasper watched as they went about their affairs. He noticed that they would come to a stop when a light that hung over the road lit up red, and they would go when it turned green. So when the light turned red he ran across the road and turned back to watch as they began to lumber off at the turning of the green light.
“Those things are just unnecessary.” He said. Then He headed off to the sound of the bell.
He trotted through a small parking lot and turned a corner to see a man standing in a tattered red suit. He was standing there ringing a single bell holding a bucket that people threw money into as they went into the store. The man would thank them and wish them a happy Christmas and Jasper knew beyond knowing that he was Santa Claws.
Jasper leaped and danced with joy at the knowledge that he had found Santa and would be going home soon. He trotted up to the man and sat down in front of him waiting to introduce himself.
“Hello sir.” Jasper said.
The man looked down and stared at Jasper.
“My name is jasper and Crow said you could get me home.”
The man continued to ring the bell. Staring at Jasper.
“Well hello there. What can I do for you?” the man asked.
“I just said that Crow told me you could take me home.” Jasper repeated.
“You better get home boy. It’s getting late and if the pound finds you, they’ll take you away.”
“Is the pound, the white boxes?” He asked.
“Go on now, get along!”
Jasper began to walk away in terror. Santa didn’t hear him. Santa wouldn’t help him. He turned once only to be shooed away. How? Why? What had he done that Santa would not help him?
Jasper walked through the parking lot his head hung low and a single tear in his eye. He was crushed. Soon the white boxes would come and take him away. He would never see his Mommy again. He had listened to a lie from a very bad squirrel and now just as he found out what Christmas was, he had ruined it.
He walked and walked until he found a quiet spot behind a store where he sat down and began to cry. He cried and cried and cried some more until his sadness turned into a low pitiful howl which carried into the night air, lost in the bustle of the Christmas season.
“Hay!” A voice rang out from behind a large green dumpster.
“Whuts all the noise?” a man asked as he stumbled out from behind it.
“Whuts goin’ on?”
Jasper jumped up in fright as the man stood to full height. He was dressed in raggedy clothes and smelled very badly. He held a bottle in one hand and swayed back and forth as he stood.
“Lost dog huh?” He smiled a very toothless grin. “You’ll make a fine meal for Christmas!”
“WHAT?!” Jasper shrieked in fear.
“Come ‘ere boy. Come to daddy!”
Jasper knew this was a lie. He met his Daddy once when he was very young and very sick. He laid Jasper on his chest and sang to him until he got better. Then his Daddy went away and it made Mommy very and she cried a lot. That was when she discovered her love for Jasper. That was when they became best friends ever. He was Not Jaspers Daddy.
The man lunged towards him and Jasper was off like a shot. Running with all his might, Jasper would not stay with that man and he certainly would not be eaten!
Just then, as Jasper looked behind himself, he saw the man holding out one hand and yelling at him to look out. Jasper turned his head to see a rolling box coming straight towards him. There was nothing he could do and the rolling box struck him down.
Mommy opened the door and announced her arrival as she always had. She was expecting to see her little man setting in his room waiting for her to open the door so they could dance at her return.
She saw that the door to his room was open and that he was gone. She began to wander about the house calling his name and searching for him. She saw that her bed room had been ransacked and that there was milk and a box of cookies strewn all over the kitchen floor.
She saw his leach lying on the floor the collar missing and she came to the wrong conclusion that someone had broken into her house and taken her boy. She opened the back door and stood in it calling his name. She walked out into the middle of the yard calling and calling, but to no avail. Jasper was gone.
Her grief had woken up Squirrel who stuck his head out of the tree to watch as she stood weak kneed and sobbing. He watched as she fell to her knee’s crying at the loss of her one and only love.
His foot slipped on a nut setting close to the door of his home and it landed just by her leg. She looked up to see him looking down at her and as their eyes met, something happened to Squirrel. Something that had never happened to a squirrel in all the lifetimes that squirrels had ever been. He realized what he had done and he began to cry. He cried in shame and in sympathy for her and for the first time in squirrel history, he looked into the sky and asked for forgiveness and the return of that annoying little pest.
He watched as she went into the house and picked up a small black thing that she talked into. She called other people to tell them that her dog was gone. Soon men inside rolling boxes with flashing red and blue lights came. They talked and drew on paper and then left.
She put on her outside skins and began to walk calling Jaspers name. Squirrel followed behind just out of view, watching and hoping that the next time she called his name, Jasper would come running from some dark place and they would be happy again. It was not meant to be. He sat at a window and watched as Mommy cleaned up the mess crying always crying at the loss of her friend until she sat on a couch and cried until she was asleep.
He watched as she slept and there was an aching in his heart that he could not understand. It was a pain of loss, something squirrels never knew. He found himself drying tears from his eyes and without a single hesitation he threw his head back and began to howl. It was more of a pathetic little rodent squeak, but a mourning howl just the same.
So filled with anguish was this tiny baying echo that soon every rodent, every rabbit every bird, bug and skunk threw their heads back to join in a very quiet and agonized epitaph of sorrow. Squirrel had learned the cost of his selfish deed and was bent on making it right, so off he went in a flurry of rodent determination. He would find Jasper if it was the last thing he would ever do.
The snow fell soft and comforting on a small park by a small pond. It was the last comfort he would ever feel. For lying under the branches of a large bristly bush Jasper watched as the snow fell.
The rolling box had tried to stop, it tried to get out of his way but the two crashed into each other throwing Jasper into a pile of snow at the side of the road. He managed to regain his footing and ran blind, until the pain in his shoulder forced him to stop all alone in the park.
He was cold and sore and so very tired that he could no longer carry on and found the shelter of the bush to lie down and rest. Trying very hard to lick his wound, the pain was more than he could bear and so he gave up.
Whether it was truth or fiction, he found himself hating Christmas. He should have known better, he should never have been so naïve. He was filled to the tip of his little pug nose with sorrow, remorse and shame.
He wanted to be home. He wanted to be in bed at Mommy’s side, warm and safe and happy. He wanted to forget all about Santa and Christmas and the world outside his yard. He wanted to be held one last time before he fell asleep. For he knew that when he fell asleep, it would be for the very last time.
He looked up to the sky and saw through a break in the clouds one single bright and shining star. The light of it fell upon him and filled his eyes with a warm beautiful light. He was in awe of it.
He began to bay a song he had heard his Mommy singing through the nights leading to this night, this silent night, this holey night. And in his head he relived every moment in time he had shared with his Mommy and his heart began to pound in a strange sort of joy.
He could hear people singing with him, the most wonderful choir he had ever heard and as they sang, the world began to melt away. He felt warm and the pain in his shoulder was gone, he was happy and healthy once again and then the world went black. The last thing he heard as his eyes closed was the sound of laughter and the ringing of bells.
Thick black boots trampled the new fallen snow around the large bush in which Jasper lay. Comforting red mittens pulled the limp body out from under the bush and a very large man sat cradling the poor creature in his lap.
The old man saw the tattered and dirty old Christmas list tucked in his collar and smiled a little with a tear in his eye. Such perfect wonder he had never seen before in his long life. Such true devotion, even in the face of a lie.
“Now then, Jasper.” His voice rang soft in the air. “We’ll have no tears on Christmas.”
The Jolly old man removed one of his gloves and laid it on the side of his nose and the light of the only star in the sky shone brighter on the pair for just one moment, then faded behind the parted clouds. The jovial old man turned his gaze from the star back down to Jasper who snorted just once and opened his eyes, the light of the star shining brightly in them.
“And he so loved man, that he gave his only begotten son.” The old man whispered.
“Santa?” Jasper said in a very dry voice.
“Yes Jasper, I’m Santa.”
“Why didn’t you help me earlier?”
My boy, that wasn’t me, that was one of my many helpers. They don’t understand the world as I do.” Santa smiled.
“Are you going to take me to Passaic now?”
“No my boy, I’m going to take you home.” He laughed.
“Where was I just then?” He asked.
“You were with perfect love.”
“Daddy was there.” Jasper said weakly.
“I know. But what say we get you home to your Mommy.”
“I would like that.”
“Then stand up my lad, and let’s get you home!”
Quick as a flash Jasper stood up, the wound from the rolling box completely gone. He jumped and danced and wiggled about as Santa watched him romp around for a little while, then it was time to go.
They jumped into the sleigh and with a crack of the reigns into the sky they flew! Passing over tree tops and chimneys quick as a flash. Jasper hung his head off to one side of the sleigh and laughed as his jowls flapped in the cold night air.
“Santa.” Jasper asked sheepishly.
“Yes my boy?”
“There was man, who had nothing to eat, can we ring him food?”
“Was this the man who was going to eat you?” Santa sneered.
“Yes.” Jasper said trying hard to convince him.
“You are the true embodiment of Christmas!”
They flew over the place where the man had been sleeping and saw him sleeping there still. One more time Santa laid a finger on the side of his nose and a plate full of food appeared in front of the man’s head.
The man sat strait up and looked to the sky to see Santa and jasper and the sleigh go by. He looked at the plate of food and then to bottle in his hand and poured the contents of the bottle onto the ground and began to eat.
“Merry Christmas!” He said holding a forkful of food up to the sky.
“Is there anything else you would like for Christmas?”
“Mommy’s Christmas list!” Jasper exclaimed.
“I have it right here my boy! It’s all been taken care of!” Santa laughed deep and joyfully.
They flew on through the night as Santa worked his rounds. Delivering toys and treats for both humans and animals alike.
“One last stop before I have to go home.” Santa said as they flew over Jaspers home.
They circled once and as soft and silent as a snowflake they landed in the back yard. Jasper sat tentative in the sleigh as Santa got out.
“What’s wrong Jasper?”
“I’m afraid.” He said.
“Afraid of what?” Santa asked shocked.
“What if she’s mad at me, what if she doesn’t want me anymore?”
“Oh my son, you should know better than anyone that is not true.” Santa said rubbing Jaspers cheek.
“I know for a fact that she loves you more than anything else in the world.” Said Squirrel from a branch in the tree.
He ran down the tree and up to Jasper hugging him and smiling and rubbing tears of joy from his face. He then climbed onto the front of the sleigh and with his head down began to apologize:
“I was wrong about so many things. I was wrong about the nature of people and my own selfish greed. I was wrong about you, you’re not a pest or a bother, and you’re so much more than anyone can ever know.
“I’ve come to realize that when you love someone truly, deeply completely, there is nothing on the face of this planet that can take the pain of losing that love away, ever. And if you will let me, I’ll show you that even a bitter old miserly squirrel can change his ways. I’m sorry I lied to you Jasper, I’ll never do it again.”
Squirrel cringed as Jasper leaned in close. His eyes fixed on Squirrel he pondered the rodents fate and without warning, he licked the squirrel from toe to head just once.
“Merry Christmas Squirrel.”
“Merry Christmas Jasper.” Squirrel said wiping the water from his fur.
“Now,” Santa said softly. “Let’s go inside.”
Santa and Jasper went into the house and saw that Mommy was sleeping on the couch with one of Jaspers blankets from his room clutched in her arms. Her face was wet with tears and her calling thing held tightly in her hands.
“Would you like to see what’s in her mind?” Santa asked.
“Could I? “
Once again Santa put a finger to his nose and Jasper saw all the things in his Mommy’s sleeping mind. She dreamed only of Jasper, of every moment in time from the day he came to live with her to the moment she left that very night. She was angry at herself for leaving him and so very scared that she would never see him again.
He was filled with delight and heartbreak and love. He saw the world through her eyes and realized just how much he meant to her. He was not a mere pet; he was not just a dog. To her he was the beginning and the ending of her life and he knew he really knew how much she loved him.
“You see,” Santa smiled. “There is no reason to be afraid.”
“I understand now the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you Santa.” Jasper said with tears in his eyes. But as he turned Santa was gone.
Jasper ran to the back door and outside to see Santa climbing into the sleigh.
“Thank you Santa! Thank you!” He yelped as the sleigh took to the air.
“JASPER?!” Mommy stood in the door way her face wet from tears. She ran to him and fell to her knee’s and hugged him as he had never been hugged before.
He sat and looked up into the sky as Santa circled once over their home. Mommy looked up and in pure surprise saw the sleigh and the driver who was holding a finger to the side of his nose. Jasper looked at Mommy, who looked back at him awe struck.
“Merry Christmas Mommy, I love you.” He said in plain and perfect English.
“Oh,” she said holding a hand to her mouth, “I love you too.”
And as he drove out of sight, both Mommy and Jasper danced and played in the backyard. They laughed and wiggled and ran about in the light of a new and wonderful Christmas snow, beneath a new Christmas star.
And as they began to walk towards their home a small piece of paper floated down in front of them. It was her Christmas list and written on it were the words:
“Merry Christmas to all.”
That was many years ago. Mommy is old now, her hair snow white and her body bent. Jasper is no longer with us, but his son came to know Mommy as Jasper did. Jasper never left the backyard again and Christmas was indeed the most wonderful time of the year for them both.
Every Christmas Eve mommy places a small glass jar on top of Jasper’s room and inside is a small aged piece of paper with a Christmas list and a Christmas with written in faded ink. And every Christmas Eve, I lay my head on her lap and she tells me the story of Jaspers first Christmas as I get many treats and the same type of love that only comes from a good Mommy.