ED GILBERT: St. Whitetail and Christmas Eve

By Ed Gilbert • Last Updated 10:40 am on Monday, December 19, 2011

Daily News Outdoors Writer Ed Gilbert

Each year I like to give readers a story about what it may be like when Christmas arrives in the animal’s forest world.

This story may also be found in my latest book, “A Brown Trout Bicycle,” or: “Once Upon the Woods & Waters,” available through Amazon or the Kindle link.

Here is an excerpt:

It was late evening on the night before Christmas, and in the deep forest the woodland creatures had long since snuggled down in their nests, lairs or caves. The youngsters were dreaming about the toys and candy they’d find under their tree and in their stockings on the morrow. Those wonderful gifts would come from a visit by St. Whitetail, their Christmas Santa.

Mr. and Mrs. Bear had also settled down in their cave. However, recalling last Christmas when he’d actually spoken to St. Whitetail, Mr. Bear decided he’d like to talk to the big charger again. So he set his alarm clock for 4 o’clock in the morning, thinking that would be about the time St. Whitetail would come by with his deer and the sleigh full of gifts.

Well, his alarm went off all right, so he ambled over to his Christmas tree. “Nothing here!” he exclaimed. “Something must be wrong.”

So Mr. Bear slipped on his warm boots, stepped outside and began walking quietly down the forest path, peering into the distance.

After a short walk he came across Wylie Coyote, who was standing outside his den. “Have you seen St. Whitetail?” he asked.

“Not hide nor hair!” snapped Wylie. “I guess the old guy forgot us this year.”

“Not a chance,” replied Mr. Bear in a pleasant voice. “Well, I’m going to go look for him. You could come along, as he may be in trouble and need our help.”

“No way,” sneered Wylie. “I’m going back to sleep.” So the coyote went back inside his den and slammed the door shut.

Mr. Bear continued on down the path and soon came across Harry the Hare. “Have you seen St. Whitetail?” he asked.

“Nope,” answered the hare, “I guess I’ll have to tell my 26 kids and 208 grandchildren that he’s not coming this year…Why, are you looking for him?”

“Yes, I’m looking for him, and maybe he needs help,” replied Mr. Bear, a hint of anger in his voice. And maybe, just maybe, you should come along with me…Tell you what, if you don’t come along and help perhaps I’ll see that you’re “hare” today and gone tomorrow. How would you like that?”

Of course Mr. Bear was much larger and more powerful than Harry the Hare, so the rabbit reluctantly closed the door to his home and followed the bear down the forest path.

Soon they came across Stinky Skunk, who was also peering into the darkness. So they asked Stinky if he’d seen St. Whitetail yet, and that their Santa may be in trouble and need their help.

“I’ve not seen him,” answered Stinky. “But a while ago I heard some strange noises on down this path, like calls for help or something like that. But I’m not going out looking for trouble, not me!”

So Bear and Hare continued down the snowy forest path. And on their way they were able to gather up a few other animals that said they’d help, and Freddy Fox, Bernie Buck, Ricky Raccoon and Crafty Cougar joined their rescue team.

And suddenly they came across the problem. There sat a huge sleigh piled high with bags and gifts, in a huge snow bank and tilted dangerously to one side, with eight white-tailed deer trying desperately to pull it free of the drift.

St. Whitetail himself was in the driver’s seat as he attempted to coax his chargers onward. He was a large and lanky deer, and atop his head sat very tall and many-pronged antlers.

Mr. Bear charged right in. “Come on,” he told the other animals. “St. Whitetail does indeed need our help!” So Mr. Bear pushed from behind the sleigh while the other animals pulled up front with the deer, and soon the huge sleigh came free of the snow bank.

Then St. Whitetail looked each of the helpers over carefully and said, “I know each of you good folks and also where you like. So, I thank you for your help, and you will all have a great Christmas day.”

And it was so. All those who helped free his sleigh returned to their homes to find many fine presents under their Christmas tree and in their Christmas stockings.

Ah, but what about Wylie Coyote? Well, he found just one thing tied up in his stocking and fastened to the door of his cave. Yes, it was Stinky Skunk, fast asleep.

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