'Stories'

Squirrel and the Gift of Joy - Christmas 2008

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Squirrel awoke with a big smile. He had been dreaming about baking hot cross buns on Christmas morning with his dear departed Mother. He had selected the very best of the best of the very best acorns and roasted them slowly over the coals of the fire until they were perfect, and then he and his Mother had drizzled a glaze that was as white as fresh fallen snow over the tops of them in a crisscross pattern that couldn’t be beat. And then he woke up.
It was a cold winter morning. Squirrel put on his slippers and padded out to the stove, which was just about out. Squirrel looked at the stack of acorns piled beside the stove in the wood box. It had been a plentiful year, but for some queer and strange reason this year’s crop of acorns were so damned tough that it was almost impossible to crack one open. It took more energy to crack one open than there was in the nut inside the acorn, so one could literally starve to death while attempting to eat them. And lots of people were. There was a terrible hunger. Who would have thought that squirrel and all his neighbors would be burning acorns to keep warm this winter instead of eating them?
These were tough times, and everyone was either depressed, anxious, worried, or sad. For Christ’s sake, this was Christmas, but there was nothing to give, nothing to get, nothing to celebrate and certainly nothing to smile about, and this is what got squirrel to thinking as he poked around at the coals. “Why?” he asked himself. “Why do I have to have something to smile about? Does there have to be a reason to smile? And why do I have to have something to celebrate? These are humble times. There’s nothing to celebrate. Is it possible to celebrate nothing?”
Squirrel shook the grate, opened the damper, and fanned the small flame. He wondered why he smiled and if there had to be a reason. “Do I smile because I feel good, or do I feel good because I smile?” he asked himself. “Does it come from the inside or the outside? Could one smile simply for the joy of it? Does joy exist independent of substance? Is Joy a state of being? Does joy exist within me?”
At that moment Squirrel felt a small, oh so soft, little hand touch the nap of his neck as he shut the door to the stove. He turned and was greeted by the nicest smile he had ever seen.
“Merry Christmas, Daddy!”
It was such a gift, and Squirrel decided to celebrate absolutely nothing with reckless abandonment and to smile back for no reason. “Merry Christmas, Sweetie. Merry Christmas!” he announced. “And joy to the world!”

Glenn Beane
Christmas 2008