It was the Night Before Christmas and we were lining the mantel with holly. Cedar and mistletoe were next to trim the piano top. The giant Christmas tree was trimmed with tinsel and rows of garland. We had to check all the bulbs regularly since they were from a previous Christmas. Mom seemed to have saved everything from the last Christmas like she always did everything. Red lights burned bright in the three windows of the front living room. We had put them up before and everyone told us how awesome they looked. So what the heck we decided to do it again.
The sweet spicy aroma kept creeping into the living room tempting my stomach. Finally I could stand it no more and rushed to get some hot chocolate chip cookies mom had just took out of the oven. I heard Dad blowing the car horn which was my cue to come help with the fruit he had brought home. Every Christmas as regular as clockwork Dad brought boxes of apples, oranges, tangerines, boxes of nuts galore.
It was very cold outside and the weatherman was calling for more snow on top of the three inches we already had. I pulled my toboggan over my head and ran outside to lend a helping hand. The gloves from last year kept my hands pretty warm. We finally had all the boxes put on the back porch. It was enclosed so we kept fruit out there to keep it fresh. Mom kept potatoes and onions out there as well. Along with the fruit and nuts Dad bought candy; lots and lots of candy.
What a wonderful Christmas it was. I finally finished wrapping my presents and placed them under the tree with the rest. I am always late with presents because I spend my money on frivolous things as Mom would say. Well now, I had just turned sixteen and got my driver’s license. One could not expect me to be a hermit and not go out visiting the parking spots around town.
After we finished everything I helped Mom with the dishes so we could all sit by the fire and toast marshmallows. Dad always toasted his toes from the rocking chair he scooted near the fire. I watched as Dad threw two more logs on the fire. It made really pretty sparks and it made popping sounds for hours. As the cold weather blasted our town Dad made sure we had enough wood for the winter. He was always early collecting wood for our house. He wanted to be sure no one got cold at The Griffin house.
I was sitting there with my legs crossed watching the blue and red fire burn. It just could not get much better than to be at home on a cold night toasting your buns by the fire. I was teasing Dad about Santa Claus coming down the chimney with the fire burning so hot. This was something he just would not talk about and gave me a serious look when I mentioned it to him. I just snickered and picked up the catalog Mom had used to order things for the household.
All of a sudden I heard a noise. I sat up straight and listened.
“Dad what is that noise? Did you hear that sound?” I asked.
“It sounds like it is coming from over behind the sofa.” He said. He stood and walked over to the sofa.
“There it goes again!” I said with a sound of emergency coming from my lips.
“What the heck is in the Air Conditioner?” Dad asked as he began looking inside of the Air Conditioner.
“Look!” I shouted. “There is a long tail sticking out of the Air Conditioner.
“Annie, you need glasses. We don’t have snakes in the house this time of the year.” Dad scowled.
“It is a tail. It looks like a snakes tail poking out of the front of the Air Conditioner.” I squealed as I took a closer look.
Sure enough there was a long tail sticking out. What in the world could have crawled inside the air conditioner? Surely most animals and snakes were snug in the winter house by this time of the year I thought to myself. I was not the sharpest girl on animals and snakes but I did know a tail of something was sticking out.
“Take off the front of the air conditioner and see what is inside there.” I said before I gave it much thought.
Dad reached up and with both hands pulled the front plastic cover off. Mom screamed to high heavens. “Lord! Please don’t let the snake out of there.” She shouted moving back into the kitchen.
“Wait let me get the broom.” I said as I hurried to the closet to get our straw broom.
“What are you going to do with a broom?” Dad asked. He gave me one of those looks that he always gives when folks do dumb things.
I stood there like a dumb bunny for I didn’t know what I was going to do with the broom. It was apparent that whatever it was would come running out and I had no place to go. Dad took hold of the tail and jerked the visitor as hard as he could.
“Oh Glory! Buren don’t throw that thing in this kitchen.” Mom yelled. She climbed up into one of the kitchen chairs. She made it perfectly clear that she would beat someone if it ran passed her.
“Get that thing!” Annie, Dad yelled.
Then Dad pulled the thing out onto the tile floor. It made a plopping sound and then headed right for me. I threw the broom down and jumped up onto a recliner. I didn’t get a close look for it was trying to find a way out before something happened.
“Girl hit that thing with the broom.” Dad shouted. The gray thing zipped past me and headed to the back porch. “I’m getting the gun.” Dad hollered as he turned and reached for the closet door.
To be sure the huge hairy rat was heading for cover. He ran passed me and out onto the porch. He scurried around the dryer and behind the washing machine.
I jumped down from the chair to see where this unwelcomed guest was. Mom was yelling to the top of her lungs. Dad got the gun and came running past me. He walked slowly past the dryer and over to the washing machine.
“He’s back there!” Dad called out. “I see him back there and I’m going to clean his clock.” Dad said.
He took aim and pulled the trigger. The sound nearly deafened me. Mom screamed from the kitchen for she was so afraid of guns. She always said Dad would do crazy things and this was one of those times.
I moved closer to the doorway.
“Come here and help me move this washing machine out.” Dad asked as he lowered the deadly weapon.
We struggled to move it out some so we could get a better look.
“He’s dead I think” Dad exclaimed. “No need to be afraid now.” He gave me a quick wink to let me know he had finished off the varmint.
Sure enough there lay the body of a huge gray rat. It’s tail was at lest a foot long and it looked like he had been eating well. Dad had killed the rat but in doing so he put holes into the floor.
“Mama ! Dad shot the rat. You can get down now.” I called to Mom. Poor mom was not taking any chances for she was terrified of a rat.
Dad reached down and picked up the body of the rat.
“I’m taking this thing out of here.” Dad said. “No reason to keep this inside. He won’t be needing heat tonight.” He grinned a sheepish grin. He was hoping that I would not tell Mom about the holes in the floor.
We moved the washing machine back so no one would see the deed Dad had done.
I took a deep breath and walked back into the kitchen. Mom had pushed the chairs back underneath the table.
“How in the world did a rat get inside the air conditioner?” She asked.
“I don’t know how he got in but I do know how he came out.” I said.
It was the night before Christmas and all through the house the sounds rang.
Our un welcomed guest had been taken out with a bang.
The clock on the mantle chimed once more.
Dad pitched it to the cat sitting silently outside the door.
The logs in the fireplace continued to pop.
I heard a loud noise up on the housetop.
Away to the window I flew like a flash.
I pulled back the curtain to see a white moustache.
The jolly ole fellow had come after all.
Merry Christmas to all both big and small.
The real reason we celebrate this day each year.
It is not because of Santa or his eight flying reindeer.
We celebrate Christmas with laughter and joy,
All of this we do because of this little baby boy.
He came to us though born in a mangers stall.
It is Jesus Christ’s birth we celebrate; the Savior of one and all!
Question: What was hiding in the air conditioner and why do we celebrate Christmas?????
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.