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"Poe's Christmas" by Joe DiMino

The family collie, Me-too, was best buddy to Purr-a-lot, the family cat; and they both liked the old raven, Poe—named after a famous poet. Poe had broken his wing, and the Kellys had taken him in, caring for him till it had mended and he was ready again to fly. But Poe decided he would stay; which the Kellys seemed to think a perfectly novel idea. I mean, how many families had a resident raven?—especially one intelligent as Poe who knew exactly how to say “Thank you.” They were a kind family, and did not startle him like other humans. There was Father Carl, Mother Emma, and the two children, 7 year old Sarah and 5 year old Peter. In such a brief time, Poe had become fond of them all—especially Me-Too and Purr-a-lot. And that was Poe’s dilemma. Christmas was tomorrow, and Poe had flown all over the neighborhood trying to find suitable gifts; but the trees were bare, for it was winter, with no fruit to be gathered for a basket. And the flowers had long withered from the cold. Poe wanted so to give Purr-a-lot a red rose for her shinny rhinestone collar. He adored Purr-a-lot, her white fur was always soft and clean, and she would often let him snuggle to keep warm. He thought she must be the fluffiest cat in the entire world. But from him there would be no fruit basket for the Kellys, and no flower for Purr-a-lot’s collar. As for Me-too, Poe had hoped to find him a juicy steak bone. Me-too loved bones—just the mere mention got his tail wagging like a motor. And he had the whitest teeth, and would give you the biggest and brightest dog smile one could imagine—wide enough to make a Raven’s wings happily flutter. But with all the new fangled garbage cans, with those special lids to keep out varmints—what a horrible word he thought—he found them impossible to open—Poe having been in the past always a conscientious recycler when it came to good garbage. Why it would take a master burglar to open one Poe frowned (if you can imagine a Raven’s frown). At times like these he wished he had been born a raccoon, experts at getting in and out of most anything.

He sadly flew to his perch, on a stand alongside the Christmas tree. Everyone had gone to bed, but the lights were left on seeing how it was Christmas Eve and Santa would need to see as he went about his favorite chore—giving. Poe recalled the story Father Carl had told the children before sending them off to bed: He thought of Rudolf leading Santa’s sleigh, full of presents. He thought of the proud deer’s shinny bright nose. What made it glow so? And how could reindeers fly without wings? For all the children to have their special gifts, the ones that could only come from Santa, he thought it must take many trips. He wondered how did Mrs. and Mr. Santa Clause and the elves manage it all?—every year finishing by Christmas Eve, having all the gifts wrapped and ready to deliver. If he had thought of Christmas sooner, he wondered, would he have perhaps found gifts for his friends? Most of all, he thought—perhaps the spirit of giving should be every day of the year, for even the thought made him feel good? He fell asleep and soon dreamed of the angel atop the tree. The angel asked Poe, why so sad? And he explained that he did not have gifts for his friends. She smile—waved her wand and three more gifts were beneath the tree. She said, little raven wishes are free—and if one dare wish something really big, unselfish and good, perhaps the world will take notice. The children entered the room all excited and thrilled. Poe wondered if he was still asleep?—for the last three gifts opened were: a fruit basket for the Kellys—a rose for Purr-a-lot’s collar—and hugest bone one could image for Me-too. Oh—and there was another gift Poe had not seen, hidden behind the others. With the warmest smile, it was handed to him by Emma. Poe used his beak to pull off the ribbon…and then with the help of his long toes hastened to separate the paper. It was a ring of seeds, a gift he wanted but with all the worry had forgotten to ask of the angel something for himself. Poe looked up, and there was the angel atop the tree—glittering—and most would think, though lovely, only a proper ornament. However Poe knew different. While wanting to say more, he knew only how to say—Thank you. So he did just that, said “Thank you”; but the angel, he sensed, knew everything else that was in his heart.

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