Christmas Without George
I am afraid this is not a happy tale. I am afraid this is not about Santa or flying reindeer or wizards or pixies or any other mythical creature you can think of, except for me. I am a Mountain Cave Elf. I am roughly the size of a dog or cat, for as you know, it would be rather difficult to clean out the corners of a cave when you are as big as a man; and to go through the intricate tunnels would be impossible! No man could ever find out we exist. Not in a hundred years. Perhaps in a hundred and one years, with a bit of luck.
No, this story is about your human affairs which I so cleverly happened to witness in a household much like yours, on a holiday known as Christmas. I have been coming down from the mountains for several years now, looking at all the humans chattering about things like other holidays, what each one got, and what's in the Surprise Casserole.
Usually, under normal circumstances, I would not eat any human food in fear of it becoming a poison to my pallad, but the journey from the mountains is perilous and in my weariness and desperation I forced down an unruly crumb of pumpkin pie and almost died.
But that's all beside the point. On this particular holiday, I rather enjoy the stories told by the eldest in the family, George. Before we go on, I must illustrate to you the nerve racking culture of humans. Besides the fact that they eat fast-food and are as greedy as a starved Raven, they seem to have a million names for each other. There is no sense in making you understand all the names given, so I'll just focus on George. The names are as follows: George, George Nelsen, Grandpa, Dad, Uncle, Mr. Nelsen, and the infamous Aesop. I have never been able to particularly assimilate the difference between these names, despite long hours lying awake trying to decipher the name code of the humans. All nights have been in vain.
I have correlated two symbols with the gathering of the humans. "7" and "12". These, too are strange codes I've yet to decipher, but soon I will, for I have a theory in the woodworking. But when a little hand goes to the symbol "7", and the long one goes to the symbol, "12", there is a gathering, and Mr. Grandpa begins his enchanting stories. Oh, if you could hear just one of them! The sound of his voice echoes off the photographs of previous Christmases and the family that inhabits the house and nobody dares make a sound. You can almost notice the times when they hold their breath in suspense and then breathe a sigh of relief or awe afterwards. I just sit in the vent, trying to imagine the scenery depicted by his words.
Occasionally, a small one will ask a silly question like, "Is he going to be all right?" or says, "That can't happen, it's not FAIR!" To which the one aptly named Grandpa Nelsen just smiles and continues on with his story.
In the mountains, we hear stories from many types of animals. Chipmunks, squirrels, mountain lions, rabbits, birds, lizards (although they don't talk much), and even insects have shared a story or two, but no story in any land can compare to the stories of man. I share this pleasure with no-one of my race, for there would be hundreds flocking to one house and we would be found almost certainly, for although we are small, we are noisy in large groups, and one hundred Mountain Cave Elves in one vent is a recipe for disaster.
So the last time I went, I snuck out of my house and locked the door, I came down from the mountain and hid in the vent and patiently waited for the approaching of the two symbols. When the time came, there was no hushing in the crowds or gathering in the big room with the little square boxes in it.
There was no gathering, no hushing, no anything except the rushing of the little ones into the big room, sitting and anxiously awaiting for Mr. Nelsen to come and start a tale.
But instead, a woman in a red dress went over and raised her glass and tapped on it with a stabbing instrument known as a fork. In all my ten thousand years in my life, I have heard many a savage sound. I have heard a screeching owl right outside of my door. I have heard a boar being slain, but in all of those years, I have never heard such a horrendous sound as a fork hitting the side of a champagne glass. I almost let out a cry as my ears rang and my head throbbed with pain, but I restrained myself, hoping to see the best storyteller to come and help me forget my woes.
But the woman said only this:
"All the children should know that Grandpa George will not be joining us this evening." Savage wails came from the small ones, and I half expected them to leap on her and eat her like an angry pack of wolves. "I am afraid Grandpa George isn't with us anymore. He passed away near Thanksgiving and he is still looking down on us from the heavens and joining in our cheers with the Lord, smiling at Samuel's antics, Marsha's jokes, and Billy's great gift for eating enormous amounts of food, wishing he were here.
He no doubt sends his wishes to all of us and would most likely not have us mourn his passing on this joyous holiday…" her voice started to quiver, "…but be thankful we are all together and we have each other to help us through this tragedy. Excuse me…" and she walked off.
Many whispers were heard from across the room. She was a very elderly lady as well, maybe she knew some stories. Many faces were held down and many drops of water manifested themselves in the eye sockets of the humans, which I think is a defense mechanism. I heard her say he was watching down on us and wondered why he couldn't come down for a few hours and tell a story.
I waited around for another couple of hours in the vent, waiting for a story to be told. When there was no story, I decided it was time to leave. So, in great despair, I left, and on my way out the window, I saw many people gathered around the lady in the red dress and they all hugged her and told her things like, "It's going to be all right, its okay." And so on. I jumped out and looked above and didn't see him anywhere. I saw only the stars.
Maybe he went to a star. Maybe his stories were so famous and joyous; he was given his own star to shout them to all the stars. And I had not known of it at the time, but I came up with an amazing story to tell to the people on the Feast of the Mountain in a couple of days. We would all stand and say something and I decided to tell them about the stars. Tell them about the stories Mr. Grandpa George Aesop Nelsen. When it was done they all clapped and more and more animals came to the feasts to hear of the amazing Mountain Cave Elf Story.
But that was long ago, almost three hundred years, and I'm much older now and I can almost feel it is time to go to Florida, where all elders go before they die. I heard there are no caves in Florida, only savage creatures and more men.
But the stories I tell will not go with me, for the birds have told the far away animals ad soon, no doubt the story will be twisted and I shall hear tell of a master storyteller from the mountains who passed away and went to the stars to share his stories with them. And I will look at the bird with awe and ask him to tell me all about the master storyteller, up in the stars, immortalized with words.