Bunny and the Christmas Present

ll the stuffed animals and puppets were sitting in the living room one afternoon late in December watching the people decorate the Christmas tree. As they sat on the sofa under a warm blanket, they talked quietly so that the people wouldn't notice.

"Christmas is my favorite time of year," remarked the terri-cloth bear. "Mine too," agreed Blue Penguin.

"I can't wait for Christmas Eve to come."

"I wonder what Santa will bring us this year," said Truble, a white, fluffy stuffed dog.

"I'd like us to get a toy bulldozer, " said Bear.

"I hope one of the kids gets a toy boat," remarked Blue Penguin, "Then I could sail it."

There was a commotion in the room as one of the children opened up a big bag filled with Christmas decorations. Inside the bag was a large stuffed bear with a red stocking cap. Across the cap was the name 'Rudi' in bright green letters. One of the little boys placed the bear on the sofa next to the animals. Next, out of the bag he pulled a black and white Penguin wearing antlers and a dinosaur wearing a Santa cap and a scarf. These also were placed on the sofa. When the children walked out of earshot the animals and puppets greeted the newcomers.

"It's nice to see you again, Rudi," said Bunny addressing the white bear.

"Yes, we're glad you could come for Christmas," added Mugsy. "All of you."

"It's certainly good to get out of the bag and wake up from hibernation," replied Rudi. "Eleven months is a long time to sleep."

The Christmas decorations spent most of their time sleeping in a warm cozy bag in the basement. Once a year, during the Christmas season, they came out to celebrate Christmas and visit the stuffed animals and puppets that lived in the children's rooms.

The animals and decorations sat on the couch happily watching the tree being trimmed as they talked about Christmas plans and presents. As they were sitting, there Blue noticed that Bunny seemed unnaturally quiet. So he asked, "Bunny, what would you like for Christmas?"

The little rabbit rested his chin on his paws and thought for a moment. "I don't know. We seem to have a lot of toys to play with here already. I want something special. But I don't know what it is!"

"Well, Santa will know," remarked Mugsy, the big brown dog. "Santa is very wise."

The last few days before Christmas passed quickly and it was soon Christmas Eve. That night when everyone went to bed, Bunny couldn't sleep. He still couldn't think of what he wanted his special Christmas present to be. He wondered how Santa would know what to bring him if he didn't know himself.

As he was sitting up in bed, Bunny heard a thumping on the roof and a noise downstairs. It was Santa Claus, he realized.Bunny hopped out of bed and raced down the hall to the stairs hoping to catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf before Santa departed for his next stop.

By the time Bunny reached the bottom of the stairs, though, everything was again silent. Brightly wrapped presents were piled under the Christmas tree, but Santa was gone. A little disappointed Bunny turned to climb back upstairs when he heard a groan.

"Hello," said Bunny, "Is somebody there?"

He was answered by another groan. Bunny peeked around the a big pile of presents to see what was making the noise. Right under the tree was a funny looking brown animal with big feet and mournful eyes. Bunny might have mistaken the creature for a dog, if it hadn't been for the antlers on his head.

"Are you a reindeer?" asked Bunny. The creature replied with another groan. It was obvious it wasn't feeling very well.

"Does your tummy hurt?" asked Bunny.

The reindeer nodded. Bunny went off to find a bottle of fizzy soda to quiet the reindeer's stomach.

"So you're a reindeer?" asked Truble.

By now all the excitement of Christmas morning was over. The children had gone with their parents to their Aunt's house for Christmas dinner and the stuffed animals had the place to themselves.

"Yes, replied the brown creature with antlers, "my name is Ralph."

"And you were pulling Santa's sleigh?, " asked Rudi Bear.

"I was until I got air-sick," replied Ralph, "Santa had to leave me here and go on with the other seven reindeer."

"Isn't it a bit unusual for a reindeer to get air-sick," asked the Velocirapter puppet. "I mean, isn't flying what reindeer are famous for?"

"I'm afraid that I've always had a sensitive stomach when it comes to flying," replied Ralph. "But everyone expected me to pull Santa's sleigh, so when it was my turn I gave it a try. I'm afraid I just wasn't cut out for the job. Now I'm stranded here and I don't know how to get back to the North Pole."

"I guess flying your way home is out, " said Velocirapter.

Ralph shook his head. "No, I couldn't. Thanks to my friend, Bunny, here, I'm feeling much better-"

Bunny smiled. He had stayed up all night nursing the reindeer back to health with fizzy soda and a warm bed made of sofa cushions and blankets.

"-but," continued Ralph, "I'll never be able to make that flight all alone."

"I have an idea," said Bunny. "You need to go by ground. How about a train?"

"A train would work," replied Ralph. "Do you know where I can find one?"

"Yes!" replied Bunny.

Bunny, Ralph the Reindeer and a couple of other stuffed animals went down to the basement. On the floor, parked neatly at a station, was a toy train. Bunny found a place for Ralph to sit on a flatcar located behind the shiny steam locomotive.

All the animals waved goodbye.

"Nice meeting you, Ralph," said Blue.

"Have a smooth trip back to the North Pole."

"Say hello to Santa for us," added Rudi Bear.

"All aboard," announced Bunny. Bunny found the power pack that controlled the engine and switched it on. The train pulled out of the station. As it disappeared around a curve, Bunny ran after it and waved to the reindeer. "Wish you could have stayed longer, Ralph. Goodbye."

When the train was gone, Bunny felt a little sad. "I'm going to miss Ralph," he told Blue. Before Bunny could say more the train rounded the track and pulled back into the station. Sitting on the flatcar was Ralph. His eyes looked more mournful than ever.

"Bunny," remarked the Velocirapter. "I think this toy train track just goes around in an oval. You can't get to the North Pole on it."

"Oh," replied Bunny, "I forgot."

"Ralph, don't be sad," said Bunny as they sat in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate, "We just need to find some vehicle that doesn't run on tracks. Then you can take it whatever direction you'd like. Even to the North Pole."

"Like a car?" asked Rudi Bear.

"That's it!" exclaimed Bunny. "Last year one of the boys got a radio-controlled car for Christmas. We can use that!"

Ten minutes later the animals had managed to get the car down from the closet shelf and out of its box. Bunny stood with the remote control in his paws. "Let me see. I think if I push this lever forward it will make the car go. Watch out everyone!"

Bunny pushed the lever, but nothing happened.

"Hmmmm. There must be something wrong..." Bunny walked over in front of the car, pushing the lever forward as he peered under the front bumper. Meanwhile Blue Penguin spotted a switch on the back of the car and flipped it to the "ON" position.

"Does this help?" he asked.

Bunny was still looking under the bumper and holding the lever all the way up. Suddenly the car shot forward and ran straight over Bunny. When Bunny opened his eyes he found himself peering up at Blue.

"Opps-Sorry" the little penguin said.

They got the car downstairs and Bunny gave Ralph a quick driving lesson. Then, with the reindeer perched on top of the car holding the control, everyone repeated their goodbyes.

"Nice meeting you, Ralph," said Blue.

"Have a smooth trip back to the North Pole."

"Say hello to Santa for us," added Rudi Bear.

"Remember, go out to the end of the street, turn North and just keep on going," said Bunny. Then he turned to yell toward the front of the house. "Open the door for him!"

Several stuffed animals pushed open the front door of the house. The car shot forward, but then suddenly lost speed. It came to rest just inside the front door on the welcome mat.

"What's the matter?" asked Ralph.

"Oh, I guess the batteries are dead," said Bunny. "But we can fix that. All we need to do is take them out and hook them up to the recharger for a few hours-"

"Bunny, that won't work," said Mugsy, coming down from the bedroom where he'd been sleeping. "The North Pole is very far away. Even if you charged the batteries all the way up it wouldn't be enough to get Ralph there."

Bunny frowned.

"There is only one sure way of getting Ralph to the North Pole," declared Mugsy.

"What's that?" asked Bear.

"Well, you should know, Bear. You sent something to the North Pole last week."

"My letter to Santa?" Bear replied.

"That's it!" shouted Bunny with glee, "We'll mail Ralph to the North Pole!"

The stuffed animals found a box big enough for Ralph to be comfortable in during the trip. They cut some slits in the sides so he could see and lined the box with blankets to keep him warm. Bunny found a paper and pen and addressed the box to 'Santa Claus, North Pole Place.' Then they put as many stamps on it as they could find around the house.

"Well, this is it, Ralph," said Bunny, "this time you're really on your way. I'm going to miss you. Have a nice trip."

Then tears began rolling down the reindeer's cheeks.

"What is it?" asked Mugsy. "Why are you crying, Ralph?"

"Well," explained the reindeer, "Being a reindeer that gets air-sick I always feel out of place at the North Pole. Here I felt right at home and everyone was so nice to me. Now I have to leave."

"No you don't," said Bunny, "you can stay with us as long as you want."

"But who wants a reindeer around the house in the summer?" asked Ralph. "I'd be out of place again."

"I have an idea," said Rudi Bear, "You could be a Christmas decoration like us! Then you could come out at Christmas time and hibernate the rest of the year."

"Really? Could I?" asked Ralph.

"Of course," said Bunny. "Then you could be our friend all the time and visit us every Christmas."

The animals were so happy about Ralph's decision to stay that they decided to have a Christmas party. They got milk from the refrigerator and broke into the tins containing the Christmas cookies.

"Won't the Mommy notice some of the cookies are missing?" asked Blue.

"Don't worry," replied Bunny, "She'll just blame it on the Daddy."

As they sat together eating cookies, Bear said, "Well, Bunny, did you ever figure out what special present you wanted from Santa?"

Bunny thought about this for a moment and then broke into a smile. "Yes, I did." Putting his paw around Ralph he added, "The special present was a new friend!"

The End

Copyright Lee Krystek 1998. All Rights Reserved.