PostScripts from Blessing

The official blog of author Lauraine Snelling and the fictional town of Blessing, North Dakota

November 30, 1902 A New Christmas Story in four parts

A Sheepish Christmas
Jesse N. Visser

Once upon a time, long ago in the city of Bethlehem, there was a boy named Daniel, whose father was a shepherd. One day Daniel went with his father to help tend to the sheep. Daniel loved to help with the sheep, except for that one stubborn sheep.

On this day, his father went to gather supplies, so Daniel was on his own for a small time. And just Daniel's luck, that one stubborn sheep refused to move along with the herd to the other gate.

"Come on, boy, come on!" Daniel would call, but the sheep wouldn't move; it just looked in the opposite direction. Daniel tried to pull the sheep into the gate, he tried pushing, and he even tried to bribe the sheep into walking into the other gate with the rest of the sheep by holding out some bread, but the little sheep wouldn't budge.

And soon enough, Daniel noticed the other sheep taking advantage of the freely open gate, and trying to escape. Daniel quickly waded through the sheep to shut the gate so the sheep wouldn't get out, but when he turned around, the stubborn sheep was nowhere to be seen.

"Oh no!" Daniel panicked, "I've lost that stubborn sheep!" Daniel quickly went back to the gate where the other sheep were, and secured the lock. He went to the top of the hill so he could have higher ground to search for the lost sheep. But the sheep was out of sight. Daniel sighed in distress. Then, he heard the sound of his father's coat brushing against the grass as he came towards Daniel and the sheep. What would he tell his father? His father had certainly never lost a sheep! He thought to himself, "I'll just act naturally, like everything is alright, and when he's gone away to get more supplies, then I will find that stubborn sheep."

When Daniel's father came to him, he sat the supplies next to the shady tree, and started to put their pieces together. After a few moments, he glanced toward the herd of sheep, and frowned. Daniel looked around to avoid eye contact with his father.

"Why is there a sheep missing?" his father questioned.

"What do you mean?" Daniel stammered.

"There is only 19 sheep, there is supposed to be 20."

"Well, that stubborn sheep…ran away." Daniel explained, looking at the ground.

"If he ran away, then you must find him now!" his father demanded. So on Daniel went. While his father finished his work, Daniel searched for the sheep. First, he looked over the biggest hill top, but the sheep wasn't there. Then he looked behind bushes, and rocks, fences, and behind water barrels, but the stubborn sheep was in none of these places. There was nowhere else to look.

Then, just as Daniel lost hope, he heard a rustle in the berry bush that he had failed to search in. A very sheepish rustle. Just as he suspected, there was that stubborn sheep, peacefully eating the berry leaves.

"There you are," Daniel said. He broke off one of the branches of the bush and started walking towards home, and the sheep followed. As soon as they had gotten near the gate, Daniel lured the sheep into the gate by throwing the branch inside. "Now stay here," Daniel said to the sheep as he locked the gate.
He went into his house, and hung up his shawl.

"Did you find the sheep?" his father questioned.

"Yes, he is in the gate with the others now."

"Good, if the sheep was lost forever, it would have caused us a great deal of harm, you know."

Daniel nodded his head and went to the table, where leftover dinner was waiting for him. He finished his dinner and went outside to the bucket of water to clean off his hands. Daniel took a long time so his father would forget about the sheep. When he went back inside, he changed into his nightshirt. He walked into the main area of the house and looked around for his father. He found him by the center fire, braiding a rope for one of the gates.

"So tomorrow, are we going to repair the old gate?" Daniel said.

"I am," his father replied. "I think you need a break from outside work for a while."

"But I want to go with you…"

"You can help your mother inside. Like I said, you need a break."

Daniel was frustrated now. Working inside was girl's work! It wasn't even his fault. It was the stubborn sheep's fault. "But it won't happen again, I won't lose another sheep, I promise!"

"I said no." Daniel's father had made up his mind.

So Daniel went to bed. As he snuggled up in his blanket, he thought of ways he could show his father that he wouldn't make another mistake. But there was no hope; Daniel had lost a sheep after all, there was no forgiving that. Daniel made a decision. Since he had lost his father's love, there was only one thing he could do…