A Christmas Story
written by Sugarberry

"I can't sleep!"

"Neither can I!"

What's going on in Ponyland? It's Christmas Eve and four Baby Ponies along with their Pretty Pals are having a hard time drifting off. They are too excited about what Santa will bring to close their eyes and dream of sugar plums.

If you could see the thoughts of each of these adorable pastel creatures, you would see a panorama of toys, candy, clothes, puzzles, hair ribbons, and games. For instance, Baby Hoppy, the joey, was envisioning a new trampoline, some sidewalk chalk in pretty colors (never enough for all the hopscotch she and Baby Pockets played), and a book about Australia (she didn't understand her deep-seated desire to learn more about that country). In the bed that Baby Woolly, the lamb, was sharing with Baby Fleecy, Woolly was tring to count how many My Little People would be able to fit in her stocking which was hung by the chimney with care. And so it went for each of the eight excited little ones.

Because it was Christmas Eve, the Baby Ponies (Pockets, Lucky Leaf, Fleecy, and Stripes) had been allowed to invite their Pretty Pals--Baby Hoppy, the kangaroo; Baby Leafy, the calf; Baby Nectar, the panda; and Baby Woolly, the lamb--to sleep over and wake up to Christmas morning excitement with them. It was a joyous time. But their overloaded minds would not shut down for sleep.

Just them, Baby Nectar heard what sounded like a knock at the door. She sat up and asked, "Did you guys hear that?"

"Just the wind," replied Baby Leafy, who was thinking about that beautiful silver bell she'd seen at the gift shop, and wondering how it would look on her old pink ribbon--or, better yet, dared she dream of a new ribbon, too?

Suddenly, the knock came again, louder and more determinedly this time. All the ponies and pals sat up now, and Baby Stripes reached out and turned on the light. Eight pairs of round, wide eyes stared at each other.

Baby Pockets broke the silence. "What if it's Santa?" she whispered.

"For goodness sakes, no," replied Baby Fleecy tartly. "Everyone knows he uses the chimney!"

"But what if he gained too much weight," asked Baby Stripes, "and he doesn't fit?"

This idea worried the group. If Santa was indeed too big to fit down the chimney and if no one else heard him knocking, what would happen to all their presents?"

Baby Lucky Leaf jumped out of bed and stated, "We've got to let him in!"

Without thinking further, all of the ponies and pals quietly rushed from their bedroom and down the stairs to the front door. The entrance light gleamed softly over the group as Baby Woolly opened the door.

If the bearded young man was surprised to be met by this menagerie of questioning stares, he hid it well. Maybe there was a hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth, but his face was overwhelmed by anxiety. With an arm around his companion, he introduced himself.

"My name is Joseph," he began. "And this," and he looked toward the girl at his side tenderly, "is Mary, my wife. Could we come in out of the cold?"

As this question was asked, Mary, whose head had been downcast, looked pleadingly toward the ponies and pals. Her face was the most beautiful they'd ever seen, yet marked by pain and fatigue. Baby Woolly's heart reached out to her, for perceptively she recognized that look; she had recently seen it on her mother's face when her baby brother was ready to be born. She instinctively realized that Mary, too, was close to giving birth.

Before Baby Woolly could speak, however, Baby Pockets spoke up. "No, you can't come in. Mommy doesn't want us talking to strangers." And she quickly closed the door.

Baby Fleecy concurred. "Come on girls. It's off to bed for us. If we aren't asleep by midnight, Santa won't come!"

All but Baby Woolly started back up the stairs; she pleaded with the others, "We can't leave them out in the cold!"

"Why not?" asked Baby Hoppy.

"Didn't you see?" Baby Woolly was close to tears. "She is going to have a baby....and soon!"

Baby Hoppy returned to Baby Woolly. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," she replied. "We have to help them."

"I agree," said Baby Leafy. "What will they do without our help?"

"Let's go out and bring them back!" offered Baby Nectar. "I love babies!"

But Baby Fleecy, Baby Stripes, Baby Lucky Leaf, and Baby Pockets all shook their heads. "No way!" asserted Baby Lucky Leaf. "Our parents would ground us for weeks."

"Right," added Baby Stripes, "and if we disobey, Santa might not come."

With that , the four baby ponies turned and continued upstairs.

The Pony Pals looked at one another. Baby Hoppy questioned the others. "Will we get in trouble?"

"I'm not sure," said Baby Woolly. "But I do know that my mommy wouldn't want anyone to spend Christmas Eve out in the cold."

"Yeah," agreed Baby Nectar. "Especially with a new baby on the way."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Baby Leafy asked. And this foursome opened the door and slipped out into the night.

By this time, Mary and Joseph were well down the path. The Pony Pals hurried to catch up to them. "Wait," they called in unison.

The two travelers stopped and turned, with looks of surprise....and hope. "Hello, little friends," said Joseph.

Baby Woolly became the speakerfor the group. "You can't stay outside in this weather, but the ponies don't want you in their home, so you can come to the stable. It's not far." She stopped for breath.

At that moment, Mary gasped. "Joseph, please, we must hurry."

Joseph asked, "Where is this stable?"

"Behind the ponies' house," answered Nectar.

"Lead the way, please," said Joseph as he lifted Mary into his arms. He whispered a prayer of thanks and followed quickly behind the pals.

When they reached the stable, Baby Hoppy opened the door; Baby Woolie found the lantern; and Baby Leafy got it lit. Baby Nectar scooped up a pile of clean hay on which Joseph gently laid down his precious burden.

The Pony Pals felt at home here in the stable as they often came to play, but it was even neater in the dark with the flickering lantern making soft shadows everywhere. The peaceful atmosphere was broken as Mary cried out, "It's time!"

As Joseph knelt by Mary's side, Baby Nectar nervously asked, "What can we do?"

Baby Woolly, who felt like an expert at this point, replied, "Blankets! Babies need blankets! Let's go back to the house for blankets!"

So off scampered the helpful little pals. They quietly let themselves into the house, and up the stairs to the linen closet where extra bedding was stored. Each pal grabbed two blankets, just to be sure they had enough. Just then a voice whispered, "What's happening?"

Baby Hoppy hastily filled-in the events to the four ponies who were still not asleep. Baby Pockets wasn't satisfied.

"If they are safely in the stable, why are you going out again?" she wondered. "Mommy hasn't caught you yet, and if you get in bed now, she will never know."

But the Pony Pals simply said, "There's something special about these people," and they were off again into the night.

When they got outside, a brilliant light seemed to bathe the stable in a glorious glow. And creatures with wings, yet different than any of the winged ponies the pals had ever seen, hovered overhead singing songs of praise.

Yet feeling no fear, the pals returned to the stable with their warm, snug load. Upon entering, they saw the most wonderful sight. The baby had been born! Mary was holding him at her side while Joseph knelt beside them.

Hearing their arrival, Joseph smiled at them. "Come," he said, "and see the child."
The pals set their load of blankets on the floor and walked to the new family. Mary, her face at peace now, proudly announced, "His name is Jesus!"

The Pony Pals didn't fully understand why, but at that moment, it seemed as if heaven had reached down to earth. They dropped to their knees in the hay.

And that was the scene that awaited the four enquiring baby ponies; their curiousity had gotten the best of them, so they had ventured outside at the expense of possible punishment.

The sky over the stable was bright and filled with songs of joy, and the ponies held back at first; but they seemed drawn to the stable. They opened the door, and gasped at the scene within. It was so like a picture Megan had shown them once, of a Christmas long, long ago. The creatures kneeling around a newborn baby in a stable....surely this was it! The picture was real!

The Baby Ponies slowly moved to join the circle. As they gazed down at the baby, the baby looked back at them. Those eyes! The ponies had never seen such eyes. It was as if they held the knowledge of the universe; yet more than that. They held love, a love that knew everything about an individual and loved them even with the faults. They held the love of God!

It was some time before Joseph looked around at the ponies and pals and said, "It's time you got some sleep, too. See, the baby is sleeping now, and you also need your rest." He helped lay out the blankets and covered each one. And this time, each one had no trouble falling into a deep and tranquil repose.

Baby Woolly didn't know what made her wake up early Christmas morning, but she immediately remembered the events from the night before. She quickly looked to where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were sleeping, but no one was there!

"Wake up! Wake up, everyone," she called.

The others sat up and rubbed their eyes. "What....what's happening?" asked Baby Lucky Leaf.

"They're gone!" sobbed Baby Woolly. "They're all gone!"

The ponies and pals leaped up and again assembled around the manger. It was indeed empty, except for a paper rolled into a scroll and tied with gold ribbon. Baby Woolly reached down and picked it up. Slowly she unfurled the message. Then, smiling with inner joy and peace, she turned it for all to see.


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