COLUMN: December 22, 2016

bauble
A bauble – not suitable for juggling by small monkeys

TWAS the day before the night before the night before Christmas, and all through the house it was utter bedlam.

Mummy Monkey did a big sigh as she lunged forward to stop the tree from falling over. It was always like this on the first day of the Christmas holidays.

As usual for the time of year, her cheeky monkeys were hyped up on cheap Advent calendar chocolate and the prospect of presents and were bashing about the place, laying waste to it. It was as if a bomb had gone off in Lady GaGa’s dressing room.

“Enough!” she yelled, as she tried to pick glitter off a piece of cold toast. “There will be peace on earth, or, at least, in this living room.”

“You!” she said to her little girl monkey, Georgina. “Baubles are NOT for juggling.”

“You!” she said to her smallest boy monkey, Howard. “Stop laying Lego traps for your father.”

“And you!” she said to her biggest boy monkey. “I want you to go out and find the spirit of Christmas, Eric.”

Eric blinked. “What?” he said.

“You heard,” said Mummy Monkey, as she untangled Howard from the lights.

“It…” said Eric, “It’s just that 1) that seems like an incredibly vague challenge; and 2) you’re seriously sending me out on my own? I’m only eight.”

“Well,” said Mummy Monkey, “1) yes, that’s the point; and 2) this is a generic children’s Christmas story – that’s the sort of thing that happens in children’s stories. Eight-year-old children go out on their own, even though the last time that happened was in 1982.”

“Fine,” said Eric Monkey, and he went upstairs to change out of his pyjamas and into his warmest clothes, including trousers which had a hole in the bottom to accommodate his tail.

Eric stepped out into the snow, and trudged up the road. Trudge, trudge, trudge, until…

He met his friend Rhino. “Hello, Rhino,” he said, “Do you know where I can find the spirit of Christmas?”

“Listen, Eric,” the rhino replied, “do you know how racist that sounds? You’ve got an actual name, but I’m just called Rhino? I have a name too. I have hopes and dreams and…”

“Sorry,” said Eric, “I have been Ukippy. What is your name?”

“Ian,” said the rhino.

“Ian, do you know where I can find the spirit of Christmas?”

“No,” said Ian Rhino. “I am only the first person you have asked. In these things it’s always the third person you ask who has the answer. You’ll have to waste your time with a second person first.”

Off Eric trudged up the road. Trudge, trudge, trudge, until…

He met his monkey teacher, Mrs Baverstock.

“Hello, Miss,” said Eric. “Do you know what the spirit of Christmas is?”

“Where’s your mother?” asked Mrs Baverstock. “What are you doing out on your own?”

Eric explained that this was a generic Christmas children’s story, and anyway, there was no way Mrs Baverstock would have the answer because she was only the second one he’d met, but the author had to pad this out somehow, and they said their farewells.

Off Eric trudged up the road. Trudge, trudge, trudge, until…

He met a human with a white beard and normal clothes who was clearly Father Christmas, but not in his Christmas Eve regalia.

“Hello, kindly human stranger,” said Eric, his tail twitching in case you’d forgotten he was a monkey. “I don’t suppose you know what the spirit of Christmas is, given that you’re the third person I’ve asked and we’re close to the end of the story.”

“You’re in luck,” said the undercover St Nick. “It’s stories like this one, which are boring and repetitive for grown-ups, but which you read to your children one Christmas.

“And then they insist that you read it to them every year after that, because Christmas isn’t Christmas without that story. You see, you do it for them because they love it, and you love them. And that’s the spirit of Christmas. And then one day you don’t get to read it any more, and you miss it.”

“You’re a very wise man, kindly human stranger,” Eric said, “but that’s a bit of a downer. Can’t I just tell Mum it’s ‘letting kids do anything they want, even eating the rest of the Advent calendar chocolate’.”

“Yeah, go on,” said incognito Santa. “It’s Christmas.”

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