Jeremy was a mouse. Jeremy was, in fact, the littlest mouse
in a great big mouse family that lived underneath the Old Oak
Tree at the end of the Corn Field, right on the edge of the Great
Mama Mouse hustled and bustled every day to take care of her
children (there were eleven of them in all, counting Jeremy,
so she was a very busy Mama Mouse, indeed).
Sometimes it seemed that Mama Mouse was so busy she didn't
even know Jeremy was there. At times like this Jeremy would think
about stories his brothers and sisters had told him, stories
about his Papa.
Mama had not always been so cross and so busy as she seemed
now, his brothers and sisters said. She used to go about with
a smile on her face, a song in her heart, and a mouse-berry pie
in the oven (mouse-berry pie was the favorite pie of all the
Mouse children, you see).
They told Jeremy that Mama seemed to have time for them all
in those days (though she must have been awfully busy just the
Jeremy would lie in bed at night and think how nice it would
be if Mama Mouse were still that way. But that was before Papa
Mouse went away.
Papa Mouse! The name sounded like something magical when you
let it whisper out of you, when it was night time and only you
could hear. Papa Mouse could fix anything, outrun the fastest
cat, and tell the best of stories at the drop of a hat.
Christmas time was the best, though. On Christmas Eve Papa
would disappear early in the morning right after breakfast, with
only a twinkle in his eye to say that something might be up.
And then, as the sun was going down, over the winter winds
blowing you could hear Papa Mouse trudging through the woods,
singing "Here We Come A-Mouse-ling" (the favorite Christmas
Carol of the Mouse children) and dragging behind him the biggest,
greenest, most wonderful Christmas tree you could ever imagine!
Every year was like that, Jeremy's brothers and sisters told
him, with Papa Mouse bringing Christmas home to his family on
Then came the year of the Great Storm, the Christmas just
before Jeremy was born.
Two days before Christmas the worst storm anybody had ever
seen came tumbling out of the sky. Wind and snow roared so loud
that all the little Mouse children wondered if the storm could
blow their house down.
But Papa Mouse just laughed and said it would be all right.
Then, on Christmas Eve morning, Papa and Mama spoke quietly
to each other, and none of the Mouse children knew what they
Then Papa Mouse went out into that terrible storm, out to
go and bring Christmas to his family. All the Mouse children
were afraid for their Papa, but he only smiled and said, "Don't
you worry, my dears, Papa Mouse will come back as sure as Christmas
And with that Papa turned and was gone, out into the woods,
into the storm.
And the storm got worse and worse, so that all the children
were soon hiding under their little mouse beds.
And as it got darker and darker, they heard a loud crash,
far away in the woods.
And Papa Mouse never came back.
Jeremy was thinking about all this, for today once again was
Christmas Eve. It had been six years since the Christmas of the
Great Storm, when Papa had gone out and never come back, and
Jeremy thought that Mama Mouse never quite stopped thinking about
Jeremy felt sad in a funny sort of way, and though it was
getting late in the day he thought he would take a little walk.
He slipped out the door and scampered down the little mouse path
that led into the Great Forest.
Mama Mouse would have been very mad at Jeremy had she known
what he was doing. The Forest could be a dangerous place to go,
and Jeremy was much too young to be wandering in it by himself.
But Mama didn't seem to notice things as much this time of year,
so off into the Forest Jeremy went.
The Great Forest always made Jeremy feel happy. It was a magic
sort of place, lots of wild trees and noises all around you,
but home comfortably close by.
Jeremy felt better walking in the Forest, and so did not notice
how dark it was getting. Soon it was so dark Jeremy could hardly
see the path he was on, so he knew it was time to get back.
But when he turned to head for home, nothing looked quite
right. He had never seen the Forest when it was this dark, and
now Jeremy began to be scared. He could no longer see if he was
on the path, and now the cold winter wind began to blow.
Then, to make things even worse, he heard a strange sort of
noise up ahead of him! It sounded like a wild forest animal,
coming to eat Jeremy up!
He wanted to run, but was very scared and, besides, he didn't
really know which way to run anyway. In the fading light he could
see something coming toward him. Whatever it was, it was making
a terrible scraping sort of sound as it walked!
Then, Jeremy thought he heard a different noise. It sounded
almost like someone singing . . .
"Here we come a-Mouse-ling among the leaves so green
. . ."
And now Jeremy could see that coming toward him was another
mouse, much older than himself, and carrying something that looked
very much like a Christmas tree!
Jeremy did not know what to do, so he quickly hid behind a
tree as the strange mouse passed him, then scampered along behind
And the stranger led him all the way back to his front door,
and when Mama opened the door she got a funny look Jeremy had
never seen, happy and sad all at the same time, and then he heard
all his brothers and sisters crying:
"Papa! Papa! Papa Mouse has come home!"
and only then did Jeremy know that it was really his long
lost Papa Mouse, bringing Christmas home with him.
Jeremy ran into the house and into the arms of his Papa, and
was so happy he barely heard how the tree branch had hit Papa
on the head back in the Great Storm, and made him forget who
he was for all those years.
Jeremy only knew that Mama was happy again, and that Papa
Mouse really had come back . . .
As sure as Christmas is Christmas!