Monday, December 15, 2008

Why Christmas is Nice

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories, and the one we are performing for tonight's school play (which I am in charge of)...

Once upon a time, in the days before anything much was organized, and when people were all pretty much alike and had not yet learned to be doctors or politicians or secretaries or movie stars or optometrists, there were never any holidays, because everyone was too busy.

What they were busy doing was taking STUFF! They spent all of their time either taking stuff, or trying to take stuff, or planning to take stuff from each other, or fixing the walls and fences and barbed-wire in their section of the jungle so no one could take stuff from them.

In those days, it was considered absolutely necessary to have a LOT of stuff, and taking it gave people a stimulating feeling. When they took something especially good (something BIG) the feeling started in the back of their neck and spread down across their back and made a tingle in their left foot. This feeling was pleasant mostly because it was the only feeling anyone ever had, except maybe being scared or hungry.

Several techniques had been developed for taking stuff. These techniques were, first: SWIPING! This was the most difficult because, naturally, few people were foolish enough to leave any of their stuff lying around unguarded.

The second and most popular method was to find someone smaller than you, give them a BASH and take whatever stuff they had at the time.

The third was to find someone your own size, sneak up behind them, and give them an unexpected BASH. Then you could grab their stuff and run like crazy. This method, although dangerous, had the advantage of being healthful as the bashing and running prompted deep breathing and increased heart rate as well as keeping the waistline down.

Now in time the smaller people learned to be very clever at hiding and swiping. And the larger people developed a protective layer of bone across the back of the skulls. And some of the medium-sized discovered they could tell BIG LIES about the amount of stuff they had hidden, and that this was about the same as actually having stuff! And so a status quo came to exist and it balanced out pretty well for everyone... for everyone, that is, except Marvin Ouk.

Marvin Ouk lived in a rather provincial area of the jungle, and his only neighbors were named Gloog, Howk, Murdleigh, and Lester. Now Gloog, Howk, Murdleigh, and Lester had each accumulated about the same amount of stuff. They were all about the same size, and they had equally excellent walls and so it became difficult for them to increase their stuff.

One day, Murdleigh would bash Gloog and take his shirt and an egg beater, but the next day Howk would bash Murdleigh and get his shirt and a fountain pen. And so on ...

They were all getting bashed a great deal, and in the long run there was no percentage in it. So, after a while, they all concentrated mostly on taking stuff from Marvin. This was not an easy thing to do. Marvin was the smallest and the most simple and the least devious of all the people. He didn't even have a proper wall or fence and as a result . . . he had no stuff. In fact, Marvin never had anything! He lived on toadstools, since no one would take them. The only feeling he ever experienced was when no one hit him on the head. He really enjoyed being not hit!

So it wasn't long before Gloog and Howk and Murdleigh and Lester gave up even trying to take stuff from Marvin. It wasn't worth the trouble it took to bash him, because although he bashed easily, Marvin was concussion-prone, and merely fell quietly, face forward, and didn't yell or holler or do anything that was fun.

And so in this part of the village the status became more quo than was suitable. Actually, the status became over-quo’d, and everyone sat behind their walls and got restless.

Murdleigh became particularly uptight about the situation. He was afraid he would lose his skill at taking stuff. So he rushed out and found Marvin Ouk and in his mind he pretended that Marvin was carrying a whole bunch of stuff. He gave Marvin an excellent bash and pretended to take all the imaginary stuff away from him, but it didn't work! He didn't get any feeling or tingle at all!

He went back home and fretted some more. "It didn't work to pretend," he said to himself. And he began to think. Suddenly a big idea came to him. A really big idea. "If I'm going to practice on Marvin, I must have it as close to the 'real thing' as possible. Marvin has got to have some stuff that I can take away from him!" He paused, because he had to make up a word to express the odd idea he had in his head. "Give," he said. "I will give Marvin something first. Then I can take it!"

So Murdleigh searched through all his stuff, and he picked out a spoon with a broken handle, and he went out to find Marvin. When Marvin saw him, he sighed and looked around for a soft spot to fall on. He was, of course, very surprised, even shocked, when Murdleigh stopped in front of him and made no bashing gestures!

"Ouk," said Murdleigh, making a peculiar twist in his face (which later they called a smile), "Ouk, I have some stuff here. I want to . . ." Murdleigh swallowed and continued with some effort. "I want . . . I want . . . I want to GIVE you this stuff." He pushed the spoon forward. Marvin backed away. "Murdleigh has sprung a gasket," he thought to himself. "I better get out of here quickly as he could be dangerous!" But Murdleigh anticipated Marvin's escape, and he seized him by the arm. "Here!" he said, and placed the spoon in Marvin's hand. "I want you to have this!"

Then he stepped back, and he prepared to give Marvin a bash and take the stuff in the usual, approved manner, but before he could do a single thing, before he could move even one muscle, he felt a strange, new feeling. A feeling ten times more powerful than the feeling he always had when he took stuff. It started in the back of his chest, and it spread not just through his back and his left foot, but all over. He began to tingle in both feet and both hands and on top of his head!

The new feeling was so pleasant and so powerful that Murdleigh caught his breath and sat down on the ground. "Ha!" he said and again made that kind of funny twist on his face in Marvin's direction. Marvin ran away.

"Who would have suspected?" said Murdleigh. "Giving stuff is . . . " He searched for a noise he could use to describe all this that was happening. "Oooser?" he said. Then "Meeper?" "Neeper." "Nipper." "Nisser." "NICER!" "Nicer" sounded exactly right. "GIVING stuff," Murdleigh thought, "is a whole lot nicer than taking stuff."

Murdleigh soon found out that part of the new feeling was a desire to let everyone else know about it. So he did. Another great discovery was made. The secret of the new feeling has been passed down from century to century. But sometimes we don't see too much evidence of it except at Christmas time, when instead of bashing and taking, people are smiling and giving, and it feels very nice!


Becky said...

Wow! A new Christmas classic.

Good luck with your play. :)

Mallory said...

Very cute!!!

Elizabeth said...

E-1 did that as a Christmas skit forever ago and my dad was in it...SO funny!

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