MATTIE THE MANGER MOUSE

(Note to readers: I hope you enjoy my children’s Christmas story and that adults will also find the valuable message held within it’s words.)

It was very late on a cold winters night in that little town high up in the hills. All appeared quiet. Everyone; every living creature seemed to be sound asleep.

All but Mattie, the little brown stable mouse and his mommy.

“Mommy is it time for the baby to get here?”

Little Mattie was too tired to put one foot in front of the other and his eyes were feeling like there was sand sprinkled in them, but he couldn’t go to sleep, not until the baby arrived. His mommy said she had a very special job for him to do that night. An important mission, a feat no one else would be able to do but him.

It made Mattie feel very grown up to be useful on this most special of nights, Christmas Eve. The night a wee stable mouse would make the most important decision of his life.

Late into the evening Mattie and his mommy worked, as the whole world slept around them, they carried bits and pieces of straw to the feeding trough. This would be the place where the babies’ mommy would lay him. Mattie knew the child deserved better than this makeshift bed. But they would make it the softest, warmest, most comfortable cradle they possible could for this precious baby.

All around them the stable family slept, Doris the donkey, Molly the cow, Tommy the toad, Glenda the goose, Randy the rabbit and Mrs. Margaret and all her chicks.

Finally Mattie heard something.

“Is the baby here mommy?”

They stopped their labors and hid behind a weatherboard that separated Daisy’s stall from Molly’s.

Peeping through the crack they watched their friend the Inn Keeper come through the door. He always threw a little extra grain on the stable floor for their supper. A cooler, almost cold wind blew through and ruffled Dandy the ducks tail feathers. It was very unusual for the wind to become this bitter. Mattie shivered, his little body was not used to the sting of the north wind. Following the Inn Keeper was a man they’d never seen before. The man helped a lady, as she slipped off a donkey.

“Where’s the baby mommy? I thought you said it would be here tonight.” Mattie whispered to his mommy, his small teeth making a clicking noise as they struck together. His petite body was shaking from the chill.

“He will come Mattie, he’ll be here soon.”

Mattie continued to watch as the Inn Keeper settled the couple into their bed made of straw, then he led the donkey into the stall with Doris.

The Inn Keeper left, Mattie continued to watch. Absolutely nothing happened, the couple soon fell asleep, as well as everyone else, including Mattie, who shivered in his sleep as he cuddled close to his mommy.

***

All of a sudden a shrilling noise woke Mattie from a restless slumber. The wail of a Baby brought the damp, dark stable to life. Mattie could see all the animals; the warm air coming from their noses became a visible vapor as it embraced the cold of the night. They were all awake; they peered at the strangers holding the tiny Baby. How could this small Tot make so much noise? His mommy was gently rocking Him back and forth in her arms. The Child was wrapped tightly in pieces of what looked like grain sacks that the Inn Keeper kept hanging on the walls around them. The stable was still midnight dark, but there was a faint orange glow all around the Baby.

“Why does the Wee One keep crying mommy?”

“He’s cold Mattie.”

The lady softly sang to her newborn Son, Mattie listened quietly.

“Hush little Baby, don’t you cry, little precious Jesus, from upon high.”

“Mommy, she called the baby Jesus, is that His name?”

“Yes Mattie, that is one of the names the Boy will be called.”

“Baby Jesus,” Mattie whispered to himself.

The singing had calmed the Child, and now the man took the wee Tot from it’s mommy and laid Him in the trough filled with the fresh, clean straw Mattie and his mommy had layered it with.

“Was that my important job mommy, to make the Babies’ bed?”

“Only part of it Mattie, the wind is very cold blowing through the stable walls tonight. Will you crawl up through the crack in the bottom of the trough and lay at the Babies’ feet? You have been chosen to accept, or deny the mission of keeping this little One warm tonight, it is your choice!”

“Why me mommy? Why was I chosen?”

Mattie’s mommy looked around at all the other animals.

“Only one among us is small enough to slip through the crack. Even though you are the weakest of all, you are the only one who can do it.”

Mattie heard all that His mommy said and didn’t really want to be in a strange bed that night away from her, but he knew someone had to keep the Child warm.

“I’ll do it mommy, I’ll keep the Baby warm.”

Mattie sneaked his way to the tough, not letting the man or lady see him, knowing they wouldn’t want a lowly mouse to share their new Son’s bed. Up through the crack he crawled into the straw, until he felt the roughness of the grain sacks. There he curled up as closely as he could get to the Baby. Mattie was sound asleep in a matter of seconds, the warmth of the Babe seeping through into his little body, warming him all the way through to his soul.

***

No one ever saw the tiny mouse snuggled up to the babies’ feet. No one but Mattie, his mommy, and, of course all the other stable animals.

Mattie smiles as he remembers. A warm, safe feeling comes over him when he recollects all those years ago, as he lay curled up next to that baby. Mattie is now a grown mouse called Matthew, but he has never forgotten how he, just a small brown stable mouse was used that cold evening long ago. He keeps the memories tucked close in his heart, and every once in a while he wonders:
“Did I save the baby called Jesus that night… or did he save me?”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbi Jordan December 21, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Sarah,
What a beautiful, touching story. I can’t wait to read it to my great-nephews. You definitely touch my heart with your words. I am blessed to know you and call you my friend.
Deb

Gail Steele December 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

This was a beautiful story. I am going to print it and read it to my grandchildren. Keep writing you are amazing!

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