Christmas 18: Frederick Huckleberry and Christmas

He was from a family of the tiniest of ants, This Frederick Theodore Huckleberry the third lay in an almost warm pool of water created by dew that had been caught up in the depression of an old dry leaf. Frederick’s top hat sat off to the side. He smiled as he reached behind him using a part of leaf- stem as a back brush. “Ahhh…feels good,” he thought.

The lake was lazy this early morning; its water showing small ripples here and there but otherwise was smooth. The sun had poked its face out warming all below with its welcoming presence. The autumn leafs were still in large part, upon the trees that lined the banks. Berries decorated Madrone trees. Multi-shades of greens mixed with oranges and yellows upon the other trees. As if cast upon the small lake for his pleasure, all the tree colors lay upon the water around his leaf. Frederick’s head swiveled around to admire it. He had been up most of the night and was tired. He thought perhaps he was ready for what would now be a mid-day nap.

He thought on what had made him so wakeful. In his minds eye and in all the wisdom inherited from his ancestors, Frederick recalled an age-old story. Soon Frederick Theodore Huckleberry the third would see winter again. It included the human celebration of Christmas. He lifted himself out of his bath and shook off the extra water that wanted to cling. Picking up his hat, he went to rest against the side of one of the many paths that lay upon the old leaf. In recent days, already a chill had been in the air. As if he were with Frederick, his great great- great- great- grandfather (on his mother’s side, of course) voice echoed within his mind. To Thaddeus it was
if once more, it was the time of Christmas. Thaddeus Finley Theodore the second begin to speak to him down through the years long past.

THE STORY BEGAN~~[This is where the story begins; cut all that other stuff]

“Winifred, get up here. Look what has happened. A poor ant has no privacy these days. Here I was all calm and ready for a good nights rest from my arthritis when all this came about. For goodness sake, young people these days have no respect for others. I had a nice warm pile of freshly scented straw gathered up for my bed. Yes, I know Winifred that is your job. You just stay so busy with your knitting and stuff; I’d rather do it myself than wait. Now get up here and see what these young people have done with my straw!” [too long a speech; break it up with some description]

The girl was barely a woman, perhaps a teenager in the world of people. Winifred had heard some human grunting and groaning but was too caught up in her latest project to go and look. [You just jumped from Thaddeus' POV to Winifred's; pick one and stick with it.] Now Thaddeus had changed all that with his grumpy demanding attitude. “Oh my. It was a lovely baby she has borne. Would you just look at those tiny fingernails and is that wisdom already in those eyes? I do believe he is looking at me. He is almost as pretty as my own children were. ALMOST. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes and is being so quiet. I can feel there is much ahead for him in his world. Did I hear his mother call him Immanuel? Such an important name. Will he be a king? I must go and make him a gift”. [speech too long; break up] Having said so, Winifred returned to her knitting. She picked up the softest of blues from her collection to represent the sky, white for the clouds, green for the grasses and a touch of dark colors for the trouble she felt lay ahead for the baby. She used her smallest and finest quality needles and quickly made him a scarf with her yarn.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus kept watch, peeking over a bit of left over straw. He saw the donkeys, cows and sheep watching as well. He heard their conversations. They talked of things the old ant had missed. [give examples] Angels had announced the birth. The sheep would donate its wool for clothing. The donkey had already given the mother a ride to the manger upon its back. The cow was ready to do what ever it could. This baby would grow to serve the world and in turn be rejected by many. These humans made no sense at all, thought Thaddeus. He really was not the grouch he pretended to be. He only liked to sound that way. Inside the tiny old ant beat the most tender of hearts. Now it softened even more as he listened and watched from his protected place. What was meant to be Thaddeus’s bed was now beneath the newborn infant. He didn’t look very comfortable he thought. “What can I do about it?” He hadn’t lived his long years with stuffing for brains. Using his best and loudest ant voice (but not so loud as to frighten the infant) he called out to his family all here and there within the manger. Gather more fresh soft straw. We need to fix the bed for this baby. Hundreds upon thousands gathered each with a straw in its mouth. Underneath the baby they placed the straw making it much softer then the thrown together bed had been. Now they left. Only Thaddeus stayed on to watch the baby. Immanuel smiled and Thaddeus knew the smile was for him. Now Winifred returned, newly knitted scarf in hand. She crawled over to the baby leaving her gift upon its chest. Immanuel reached out to the scrap of color and smiled once more, this time for her. It gathered the soft material into its hands and closed its eyes in rest. [paragraph much too long; jumps around some]

Thaddeus and Winifred lifted their voices in praise. “Hark the Harold [herald] angels sing. Glory to the new born king” Now they too went to their beds. Time tomorrow for the rest of the story to unfold.

[cut Frederick] Frederick Theodore Huckleberry the third jerked back to his modern world with a start. He had almost drifted to sleep hearing that wonderful story in his mind. It came to him each year from Thaddeus. Gosh, but he was tired. A ripple picked up the leaf causing it to rock gently. Frederick fell fast asleep. Yes indeed, tomorrow was another day and would come soon

Your story jerks between Frederick and Thaddeus. Dump Fred. Other than your nice description of the lake, none of the pre-story is needed and the last paragraph doesn't add anything either.

You jump between POVs. Who's telling the story—Thaddeus, Winifred, or an omniscient narrator? Pick one and stick with it. I have a problem with the ant knitting a scarf. Have them do something more ant-like.

You need to focus your story. Is it about the birth of the Savior or finding a gift for Him? Choose one and make all the details of your story lead to that resolution. Change your title to reflect whichever story you select.

What I liked best: I really, really like the idea of the nativity from an ant's point of view. I've seen it from various other animal POVs, but never an ant.

Magazine ready? No. This one needs a lot of work before it's publishable. However,
after picking your story apart and pretty much telling you that you've done everything wrong, let me say that this story has potential. If you worked on it, added some conflict—the ants wanting, trying to do something for the baby, but finding road blocks, etc.—created some action that lends itself to illustration, you could have a really nice Christmas picture book.

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