PostScripts from Blessing

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

A Sheepish Christmas final installment 12 24 1902

A Sheepish Christmas
Jesse N. Visser

The Final Installment

The shadow loomed around the corner and…it wasn’t just one creature, it was three men.

They were dressed in fine robes, crowns, and jewelry. They wore gold necklaces, rings with precious gems, anklets and bracelets. And each one of them had a box in their hands, and grins on their faces. Each one presented their gift and left their boxes next to the baby. Daniel couldn’t keep this in, he had to tell someone!
He decided that when he would go home, he would tell his family, but he had to stay and watch just for a little longer. The people didn’t seem to mind the visit and all the barn animals that had come didn’t even give the men a second thought. Daniel was especially surprised at the cats. Cats usually scurry away when disturbed, but not tonight.

The men left after a short visit and Daniel decided it was time he left, too. He squeezed through the little door he had discovered earlier, and started to head home. As he walked back up the hill, he started to think about what he had seen that night. Who was that baby? Why had he felt such peace around the baby? And why did the baby gather such a crowd just being born?

Suddenly he heard something behind him. He turned around, and squinted his eyes so that maybe he could see something. There was nothing there. Daniel turned around and kept going, but the noise came back again. He stopped where he was and sighed; he turned around a second time and gave a yelp. It was that stubborn sheep! He’d forgotten all about it.

Daniel frowned at the sheep. The sheep had wanted to go with him earlier, but he ignored it. Then the sheep was at the barn, and now it was with Daniel again. He decided to let the sheep follow him. It was much easier than trying to find it! So they trudged up the rest of the hill together.

They were approaching the top of the hill, when Daniel heard someone coming their way, quickly. Daniel rushed himself and the sheep over to a bush. This time the stubborn sheep had no problem doing what Daniel wanted! The boy crouched down and forced the sheep to lie down. The stranger went by and they were unnoticed. Daniel peeked over the bush to make sure no one else was there, then the sheep stood up and started walking again. Daniel followed.

As the two were walking, Daniel looked back at the stable; the star still shown directly above it. Daniel smiled and looked at the sheep that was sniffing the air, he turned around and kept going, the sheep continued to follow. Daniel started to pick up his pace when he started to think about telling everybody he knew about what he had seen.

He was beginning to run when he looked back to see if the sheep was still following, and it wasn’t there. Daniel looked around and saw it in the distance looking at him. He was going to leave it, but he couldn’t. After all, it was his father’s sheep and he would never lose one of them again. He dragged himself back to the sheep. It looked at him, and then looked in a different direction.

“Home is that way.” Daniel demanded, pointing up another hill. The sheep continued to look in that one direction. Daniel grabbed the sheep’s wool and tried to pull; it wouldn’t move. The he tried pushing and shoving and pulling harder on the thick wool, but the sheep wouldn’t give, just like before.

“So be it.” Daniel gave up, and went the way the sheep was insisting. After all, he could get home going in that direction too, it would just be longer and harder, Daniel didn’t really feel like doing that, but he didn’t want to go without the sheep. So on they went. They climbed rocks, and hills, over fences and streams, and finally, they climbed up a last hill, and as they were walking, Daniel could see his home. He looked to his right to see the sun was beginning to rise, and his home was already lit up with candles.

Daniel looked around, and saw that the way that the sheep insisted to go was actually the best way home after all. He was surprised that the once-stubborn sheep actually helped him on his way. He patted the sheep and headed home.
He finally got to his house and put the sheep in the pen. And now the sheep seemed perfectly content! It began to nibble on the weeds.

Daniel smiled and was excited to tell everybody about what had happened. He was going to tell them about the empty barn, the star he had followed to get there, the people and their new baby who brought such peace within Daniel, the strange cats, all the barn animals that had escaped from their homes to see the baby, and the three men dressed like kings who didn’t seem to mind kneeling to a baby. Like he was someone. Daniel knew that he would never forget that night.

Dec 19, 1902 A Sheepish Christmas Installment 3

A Sheepish Christmas
Jesse N. Visser
Installment Three

In what seemed like seconds, the two people who had come in earlier had become three.

The donkey made himself a comfortable place to lay near the people with whom he had come, and the cats that were once oblivious to the people, were now curiously sniffing the air around the new baby. Daniel couldn’t help but stare, until he was jolted out of a daze. A cow and two goats were making their way in, along with three ducks, two pigs, and a sheep. He looked around in shock to see that all these barn animals had managed to arrive at this stable at the same time unnoticed, all to crowd around the newborn baby. No animal bumped into another and none of them appeared frightened.

But there was something about the single sheep; it seemed familiar to Daniel. “It’s that stubborn sheep!” Daniel exclaimed to himself, “How did he get out?” he questioned. Daniel was sure he locked the gate good and tight, and yet that sheep managed to escape…again. Daniel shook his head in disappointment, but then he was confused, why was that sheep here? Could he smell Daniel? He wasn’t sniffing around as if he was looking for him. He was content with the other animals; actually that was the first time that sheep had ever been content standing still!

Daniel was trying to reason why that sheep was here, especially with other animals that he usually would fight with, then he thought back to when he was first leaving. He remembered that he woke the sheep, and that it wanted to go with him, which was peculiar since earlier that day the sheep didn’t even want to stand next to him for more that a minute. It all didn’t make sense.

Daniel turned his attention back to the family. The man was building a little place for the baby to sleep, as the lady rocked side to side with the baby in her arms, holding it extra close, and the cats curiously crept closer. Daniel rested his chin in his palm that was propped up on an old feeding trough. He couldn’t help but stare for some reason. He had seen plenty of babies before, but this one was different. He felt like one of the barn animals that had come in, just watching and ignoring his surroundings. Daniel didn’t feel lonely anymore.

He looked around at the curious scenery, and wondered what it was like at his own home. He wondered if they all were still asleep, or if maybe his father had woken up to the noise that was made by the sheep escaping, realized that he and the sheep were gone and went looking for the both of them. He wondered if they would find him here at the stable if they did look. Maybe the sheep would give him away, and he would be in even bigger trouble. Daniel cringed at the thought and gave the stubborn sheep a glare; after all, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for that stubborn sheep.

But it too seemed different, it wasn’t hyper or mischievous. How could that sheep be peaceful? But it surely seemed to have a peaceful look. A frown crossed Daniel’s face. Was the sheep only a miserable chore of an animal when Daniel was around? Daniel sighed in defeat and decided to leave his thoughts about it at that. He decided that since the family was obviously going to stay there, then he would eventually have to find another place to stay. His hiding place wouldn’t be so discreet in daylight after all.

He looked around behind him to see if there would be an alternate exit way. There was a small, thin doorway about four feet tall that he could squeeze through when he decided to leave.

Daniel thought that he would go back home when he left. He figured that he had been gone long enough. After seeing the family, his troubles didn’t seem so severe after all. Daniel watched, as they made themselves comfortable for the night. He silently yawned and quietly put all of his things in his bag. He decided that he should start heading back home, so he took his bag and slowly pulled the small door towards him. He looked back once more and saw that sheep sniffing the air around him just like before when he wanted to go with Daniel.

“That’s strange,” Daniel thought to himself, but he then ignored the sheep just like before. He started to crawl out when he heard something outside. Looking around, he noticed one big shadow moving towards the stable. Daniel gulped and shut the little door, crouching in the corner. He didn’t know what the shadow was, but he knew he didn’t want to be seen, especially while he was trying to get out.

A quick peek showed all the animals were crowded around the now-sleeping baby, and they were as they were before—peaceful—as if they didn’t even see what was coming up behind them. Daniel heard mumbling and murmuring coming from the approaching big shadow. What was it?

Then he heard a rustling in the bushes, Daniel blinked and swallowed hard as he braced himself for what was getting closer and closer to the stable…

12-13 -1902 Installment two A Sheepish Christmas

Installment #2
"A Sheepish Christmas"
Jesse N. Visser

Daniel decided that he must run away.

If he wasn't home, then there wouldn't be a stubborn sheep to lose. So, in the middle of the night, Daniel fumbled around his bed, gathered some of his things, tied them up in a sack, and took his water jug.

As he headed for the doorway, he stepped on a squeaky floorboard and froze in his position. He heard his father mumble something in his sleep and turn over. Daniel sighed in relief and started moving closer and closer to the doorway.

Before he knew it, he was outside, in the silent of night, deciphering which direction he should go. Daniel looked to the left, to the right, and something caught his eye—an unusually bright star sparkling in the sky above him, towards the North.

"I'll follow that!" Daniel said to himself, then realized that all the roads he knew well would take him away from the star, so he didn't bother with roads or walking trails, he just started heading for that star. He began to trudge through the field when he looked back to see his home one last time. He could barely see an outline of it in the void of midnight. A bump rose in his throat and it was hard to swallow.

As he passed the gate where all the sheep were, suddenly that stubborn sheep that had given Daniel so much trouble before lifted its head to look at Daniel and gave a snort. Daniel did nothing but glare at the sheep; it pushed and prodded the lock on the gate, hinting to Daniel that he wanted to go out.

"I wouldn't count on it if I were you, I secured it pretty tight," Daniel bragged to the sheep. It prodded again, and looked in the direction that Daniel was headed. "No, you can't come with me; you'll just run away again." But the stubborn sheep wasn't stopping, he kept nudging the lock, and looking toward the North. "Yes, I'm going that way, following that star, to…" Daniel stopped himself. He was explaining what he was doing to a sheep that didn't understand him, and didn't care! "Why am I telling you, of all creatures to tell?" Daniel continued.

He noticed the sheep was now sniffing around, looking for somewhere to escape. "Bother," Daniel murmured, and kept walking. He walked through bushes, tip-toed through gardens, and climbed up various sizes of hills, all just to follow a lone star, still shining abnormally bright. While he walked he thought about his father and that stubborn sheep. If only his father had given him another chance! If only that sheep were not so stubborn!

Just as he was able to walk freely on flat ground, he stepped in a deep hole, and tumbled to the ground. "Mud! Oh, that's wonderful!" It seemed he would never get to where that star was shining, but he couldn't give up. After all, he had already run away, and given that stubborn sheep his goodbyes. That sheep! He certainly never wanted to see that sheep again. He wiped off his sandal, and stood back up, now walking more lightly, and cautiously.

As he continued plodding along, Daniel looked around at all the houses, and took in the quiet air. He had always wondered what it was like to be the only person alive, and now he was getting that lonely feeling. He looked at the star and the city abroad. He noticed a small stable a short distance away was catching small glimmers from the star.

"Then that's where I'll stay," Daniel decided. His feet were tired and he was beginning to wonder if running away had been a good idea. He made his way down the hill into a familiar village that seemed to be a busy place during the day and headed towards the stable.

Once he reached the stable, he looked around. There were a few cats and feeding troughs, but no farm animals. He made his way into the back, set his things on the ground, and pushed around some hay, that was lying freely, to make a small bed; he emptied his sack that contained some food, a blanket, and extra clothes. Daniel felt even more lonely. He put the food back in the sack, and spread the blanket over his legs as he sat on his new bed.

"I don't really have much of an appetite, and neither would you if what happened to me happened to you," Daniel explained to one of the cats who stared at him unblinking. "You know, you do one thing wrong, and then you're shunned. I'll bet that doesn't happen to cats, does it?" The cat regarded Daniel for a moment, and then went back to licking its paws.

Even though he was lonely and kind of afraid, Daniel felt his eyes closing. He was so tired. When he saw the light from the opening door at the inn, his eyes flew open and he ducked. He saw two people, one on a donkey, but they were being shunned by the inn keeper, and started heading for the stable.

"Oh no! I'll be caught!" Daniel panicked. As they came closer, Daniel scooted his things and his new bed behind some feeding troughs. They came into the stable, and let the donkey roam. It sniffed around the feeding troughs. Daniel tried to shoo it away. He didn't even realize what was happening to the people, meanwhile, but once he looked beyond the curious donkey, Daniel couldn't believe what he was seeing. His eyes widened…

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…