The First Christmas

It was a clear, cold and starlight night. A blanket of the whitest snow bedded down the valley of the Iowa … there were no lights from farms or villages … because there were no farms of villages … it was ‘most two thousand years ago!

Like the blanket of snow which covered the valley … a blanket of peace mantled the heavens … and each twinkling star seemed to send down a message to the wildlife of the valley. It was a special night and from the old snow owl in the highest tree to the muskrat splashing in an open ripple … all seemed aware of a difference.

A rabbit hopped from beneath a shelter of hazel brush. Sitting on his haunches, he nibbled bits of the sky with his nose … he knew that a fox was stalking his tracks … but on the “special” night, he had no fear … only peaceful security. Slowly he made his way to the top of the treeless hill … attracted by what … he did not know. The fox followed. Pausing at the crest of the hill, the rabbit sat up … and turned his head toward the east, where a bright and shining star shed its brilliant glow over the countryside. Behind him came the fox intent on the kill … then, too, he saw the star … and sitting down beside the rabbit he raised his head toward the sky.

From the shadowy woods, from the river and from the fields came the wildlife of the valley of Iowa. A doe and a fawn, a lumbering bear, two skulking wolves and white weasel … all took places in a great semicircle beside the fox and rabbit. All unaware of each other, they gazed at the great star in the east. From the river came the mink, the muskrat, the beaver and the otter. From the woods came the coon, the possum and the badger. A lynx and a skunk wandered the dame path leading to the hill, where they joined with the others in their vigil of the star. Then came the shaggy buffalo to join the silent group.

The brilliance of the star in the east wakened the birds of the valley ,,, and they, too, were attracted to the hill … the prairie chicken, the wild turkey and the quail roosted with the hawk and the owl … while far below in the valley, three wise old geese placidly rode the open ripples of the stream.

Swiftly and silently, along a game trail near the river, came a hunter. A flint axe swung from his belt. He was in search of food and fur for his wigwam. Seeing the many tracks leading from the river, he followed them upward to the hill. The light of the star cast a brilliance on the wildlife assembled there … and swiftly he bent an arrow to his bow and took aim on the nearest … the doe … then, too, he saw the star in the east and slowly lowered his arms. Gazing in wonder, he strode silently forward and took a place beside the buffalo.

From the river came the sound of the beating of strong wings as the three wise old geese took off from the waters. Circling slowly above the assembled birds, beast and hunter, they set a course toward the star in the east on a very special mission.

The hunter watched them until they could be seen no more … turning, he gazed at the wildlife about … slowly, he returned the arrow to the quiver … unstrung his bow … and silently strode away in the night … there was peace in the valley of the Iowa.