The real First Christmas happened before there was even a Christmas … (More)

… and once you hear what the humans were up to, you’ll understand why only squirrels passed the story down.

Way back in the mists of time, there was a village named Treue. The village is now buried in the mists of time, but back then it was buried the mists of the Schneifel, now known as the Schnee Eifel, a hilly, forested region of Germany near the Belgian border. In Belgium it’s called the Ardennes. But I digress.

The point is, there were lots of steep hills and lots and lots and lots of trees. So there were lots of squirrels to witness the various parts of this story.

In Treue lived Ansgar and Anna. They were married, but Ansgar was in love with Emma, who was married to Elmar. That would be very sad for Anna, except she was in love with Deitrich, who was married to Pia. This would be sad for Elmar and Pia, but Elmar was in love with Hedwig, who was married to Gerulf, and Pia was in love with Godehard, who was married to Frida. Not to worry, as Gerulf was in love with Hilde, who was married to Len, and Frida was in love with Tyr, who was married to Sigrun, and of course Len and Sigrun were in love with … well, you get the picture.

Each night, in the wee hours, Ansgar would get up to milk the cows, or so he told Anna, who got up to start baking bread, or so she told Ansgar. Across town – where Joe Kenda would have been, had he been alive way back then, because he’s always across town – Elmar would get up to muck the stables, or so he told Emma, who got up to fetch water, or so she told Elmar. And so on.

Thus did the villagers, who weren’t as Treue as their village name, pass a lovely summer and early autumn. But then the seasons changed and the nights got longer and longer, darker and darker, and wandering around in the dark forest was not exactly ideal for wee hours assignations.

This was good for their marriages but bad for their sex lives and, by late December … well, let’s just say the cows and goats had nothing on the humans when it came to horns, if you get my drift. And a snowy drift it was.

So Ansgar had a quick chat with Emma. “I’ve missed you so much,” he said. “Let’s get together tonight, by the pond. I bought a gift for you.” The gift was a sweater that fit Emma perfectly, because he knew her measurements … perfectly.

“I’ve missed you too,” Emma replied, “and I too bought a gift.” It was also a sweater that fit Ansgar perfectly, because she knew his measurements … perfectly. “Alas,” Emma continued, “it’s too dark in the woods at night. I might get lost on the way to the pond.”

“Not to worry, my darling,” Ansgar said. “I’ll hang some lanterns in the trees, to light your way.”

Meanwhile, across town – where Joe Kenda would have been, if he’d been alive back then – Anna had a brief and very similar chat with Deitrich. And across town from them – in another place Joe Kenda would have been – Elmar chatted with Hedwig and Pia with Godehard. And across town from them – in yet another place Joe Kenda would have been – Gerulf chatted with Hilde and Frida with Len. And so on.

Needless to say, that night the forest around Treue was aglow and the pond was … crowded.

No one knows for sure who the quick-thinker was, but the squirrels credited Anna. As they tell it, she turned to her husband and said: “Oh darling! I’m so glad you hung those lights and came out here. We needed a village celebration to change the mood of these long, dark nights.”

Ansgar seized the opportunity and held out a wrapped parcel. “You’re so welcome, my beloved. I even brought you a gift!”

Anna read the tag on the parcel: “To my sweetest with love, from Ansgar. Oh, darling. I have a gift for you too!”

“To my starlight with joy, from Anna,” Ansgar read as he accepted her parcel. “How sweet.”

Of course, Anna’s gift sweater didn’t fit Ansgar at all, because Deitrich was a much stouter man. And Ansgar’s gift sweater didn’t fit Anna, because Emma was a much shorter woman.

But needs must, and the other couples quickly followed suit. Or followed sweater. But you get the point.

Then another lantern came on, over a table set with mugs of Glühwein and plates of Keske. Behind the table would have been Joe Kenda, who would have known everyone would be meeting that night at the pond because they all had their little chats across town from each other, where he always would have been.

Kenda would have looked at them and uttered his trademark phrase: “My, my, my!” He would have except, in Germany a similar expression of not-entirely-surprise would have been: “Ho, ho, ho!” (Yes, really.)

And thus we have the first Christmas trees, the first Christmas gifts – sweaters that don’t fit – the first Weihnachtsmarkt … and the origins of Santa’s jolly phrase. The real story of the first Christmas … long before there was any Christmas …

… as passed down by squirrels, because the humans of Treue could never admit why they really went to the pond that night.

Ho, ho, ho….


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Good day and good nuts