Cruda Delivers Christmas
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Cruda the Duck cooked her favorite Christmas Eve dish.
She began by boiling grains, grasses, algae and a few minutes later she added seeds, weeds, and berries.
The pungent aroma made their mouths water.
"Let's eat," grumbled Leroy the Bull, "I can't wait forever."
"Hush up" said Cruda, "it'll be ready when it's ready."
Stanley galloped around the barn, excited about Christmas.
"I wish I could be a reindeer and pull Santa's sleigh, maybe I am part reindeer."
"Give it a rest!" shouted Leroy, "you're driving me nuts!"
"Leave him alone," said Cruda, "he's still a young donkey."
Stanley stopped and gazed out the window.
"It's time to eat," said Cruda.
She could see Stanley was still distracted, "Do you think you'll see Santa this year?"
"If I don't fall asleep," he replied
Leroy shook his head sideways.
"Clean your plates, boys."
They did, in fact they ate every little bit.
"Thanks, Leroy," said Cruda, "I consider that a compliment."
"What should we do now?" asked Stanley, "I have to stay awake."
"Let's play a game," said Cruda.
Leroy snickered, "How about Pin the Tail on the Donkey?"
"How about Can the Cones?" countered Cruda quickly.
She hoped this would help Stanley work off his nervous energy.
Cruda emptied out a bag of big pine cones she had painted silver and gold.
Leroy found a pail and placed it twenty paces from the open barn door.
Stanley made sure the door stayed open because the barn had no chimney for Santa.
Cruda put straw in the pail, so the cones would have a soft landing.
"Pull that hay bale over here, please."
Cruda jumped on and flung the pine cone with her left wing.
Stanley placed a pine cone on the edge of the bale. "This one's for Santa."
He kicked it and hay flew in his face. "Ah-choo!"
He checked his shot. "I canned it!"
Leroy stepped up next.
"Enough of this rubbish," he said as he turned around and drilled his pine cone right out the door.
"Why did you do that?" asked Stanley.
"This one's for Santa, don't be stupid, there's no Santa." replied Leroy
"There is too!"
Cruda stepped between them, glaring at Leroy.
"Why do you tease him like that?"
Stanley stared at Leroy, "Don't worry, Santa will show him." and then went outside to retrieve the pine cone.
"Guys, come here, hurry!"
"Look, over there," said Cruda, pointing with her webbed foot.
"By golly, if something isn't landing in the field," said Leroy.
Stanley, braying, could barely contain himself.
"Santa is here, Santa is here, I can feel it!"
Cruda took flight.
A few minutes later she returned, out of breath.
"That is Santa Claus out there; they're stuck in the ice."
"I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!" said Stanley
"Ha ha ha. That's a good one," said Leroy, "you quack me up."
Cruda waddled over to Leroy.
"We have to help Santa, this is no joke."
"Don't get your feathers all ruffled, I'll play along. What should I do?"
"See those boards over there? Tie them to your feet so you can ski over the ice and snow, and bring some ropes."
Leroy snorted. "I don't know how to ski."
Cruda tried to stay calm.
"You are a fine athlete, I am sure you can learn quickly."
Leroy felt flattered "You're right," he said.
With his horns he cut some lengths of rope and Stanley helped him attach the boards.
"How can I help?" asked Stanley.
"Find those old shingles behind the barn," said Cruda, "and tie them around your feet, they will be your snowshoes."
Leroy cut some lengths of rope for Stanley and helped him attach the shingles.
Leroy and Stanley stood at attention, awaiting further orders.
Cruda almost laughed, but remained stern.
"Stanley, you will lead Leroy with a rope so he doesn't slip and fall."
Santa saw them coming; a donkey with a duck on his back and a bull behind.
Santa shook one webbed and two hoofed feet.
"Thanks for helping us, we were forced to land because my youngest reindeer had motion sickness, this was her first trip."
They saw the reindeer, shivering, unable to free themselves.
They saw the sleigh leaning, with its right runner embedded in the ice.
They saw Christmas presents strewn across the snow-covered field.
"Leroy," said Cruda, "we need you, can you do it, are you bull enough?"
'I can't believe this,' thought Leroy, Santa in the flesh.
"Leroy, earth to Leroy," said Cruda.
Leroy shook himself from his stupor and thrust out his chest.
"Of course I can!"
"Huddle up, boys," said Cruda.
They settled on a plan of action.
First, Stanley led Leroy to the front of the reindeer.
Leroy removed his skis and they stomped the ice down to create a work space. Then, in a clockwise direction, Stanley led Leroy, on only his left ski, as they stomped around the reindeer and sleigh.
Leroy used his horns to break ice too.
Next, Cruda tied ropes to the lead reindeer and around Leroy's neck.
Leroy took off his other ski.
Stanley nuzzled next to the other reindeer, trying to encourage them.
'I can't fail,' thought Leroy, 'not in front of Santa.'
"Don't hurt yourself," said Cruda.
Leroy pulled, and pulled, and pulled.
He stretched, he strained, he grunted and groaned.
Leroy perspired profusely.
"Take a breather," said Cruda.
She used her wing to wipe the sweat from her friend's stinging eyes.
She whispered, "Alfalfa Sprouts Delight."
Leroy felt inspired.
"Come on!" he yelled with intensity.
Cracking sounds filled the air.
"Uhhh! Uhhh! Uhhh!"
The reindeer broke free and out popped the sleigh.
"There," said Leroy, panting heavily.
Santa shook his head in amazement. "This is one for the ages."
"Look," said Stanley, as the scattered presents scampered back to the sleigh and packed themselves perfectly.
One almost hit Leroy in the head, he had to duck.
"It's like they have a mind of their own," said Cruda.
When they returned home Cruda said, "We'll take care of your sick reindeer until you return."
Leroy poured the reindeer a bucket of warm milk; he even made her a bed of hay.
"The problem," said Santa "is that we need every reindeer, we can't leave without her. You don't have a reindeer in this barn somewhere, do you?"
Cruda eyed Stanley.
"No, we don't, but we do have a donkey, but I don't think he's interested," she giggled.
Stanley heard her.
"Hey, watch this! I can fly!"
Stanley ran toward the hay bale, vaulted off it, and crashed to the cement floor. Surprisingly, he jumped right back up, unhurt.
Santa smiled. "I'm glad the reindeer didn't see that."
Cruda gave Leroy her don't-mess-with-me look, to stop him from laughing.
Leroy did not laugh!
Stanley, embarrassed, lowered his head.
Santa put his hand on his chin. "Hmmm, you do have spirit Stanley, how would you like to pull my sleigh tonight?"
Stanley jumped up and down. "Really Santa, really?"
Santa hitched Stanley to the sleigh.
Stanley pinched himself.
"Don't blow it," said Leroy.
"Concentrate," said Cruda.
Santa pulled a small red and white case from his pocket.
He unzipped it, and took something out.
The object unfolded into three parts.
Only Cruda understood the seriousness of the situation.
She motioned for Stanley to kneel down on one knee.
Santa placed his candy-cane cane on Stanley's bowed head.
The cane glowed.
"Stanley, I hereby designate you an official Santa's Helper of the Highest Order."
"Thank you, Santa, I am honored." Stanley blushed.
Santa turned to Cruda.
"Soon, the whole world will know."
"How Cruda delivered Christmas."
Cruda could not speak or quack.
With a wink, a wave, and a nod, Santa climbed into his sleigh.
"Ho Ho Ho!"
The sleigh lifted off the ground. And then, whoosh...
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