By Paisley B.
"Wake up everybody! It's Christmas!" Four year old Peter was waking everyone up on Christmas morning by yelling enthusiastically at the top of his voice.
"Don't yell in the house, Peter, it will wake up baby Patsy," scolded ten year old Olivia.
"Too late, she’s already awake," noted fifteen year old Katie, hearing the baby crying and their mother, Elise, comforting her.
"Well, since we are all up, we should do the morning chores now before breakfast," their father William declared.
"Could we open some presents before we do the chores? Please?" pleaded Sunny, who was one of the eight year old twins.
"No, we'll open them later."
William Smith lived with his family outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, and worked for Babbitt Ranches. It was Christmas Day, 1925, and the past year had been quite eventful on the ranch because of an outbreak of Scab among the cattle. The treatment had involved dipping the cattle in a medicated bath. Now that the trouble was past, it was back to the regular chores which included feeding their animals, milking the cow, collecting the eggs and cleaning out the stalls. They also had to shovel the snow that had accumulated in abundance the night before.
"I wish we didn't have to do chores on Christmas," Olivia groaned, going into her room to get dressed.
"Well, I for one, don't think it would be very Christ-like if we didn't feed the animals on Christmas Day," remarked thirteen year old Timothy, going downstairs to get his coat and start shoveling the snow. With that thought in mind, all the children did their chores cheerfully and willingly.
When the chores were finished and the family had enjoyed a deliciously satisfying breakfast, they all went into the living room. Before they opened any presents, they read and discussed the Christmas story from Luke 2 and prayed together. Finally, they opened the gifts, which was a huge relief to Eddie and Peter, who had feared that they would have to wait until after lunch to open them.
Once everything under the Christmas tree had been unwrapped, William said,
"I have a surprise for all of you children, including Patsy, and I need you to shut your eyes and not peek until I tell you that you can open them."
The children tightly shut their eyes and heard their father open and shut the door.
"What is Papa doing?" wondered Joy upon hearing the door shut.
"You’ll soon find that out," Elise promised them.
Presently they heard the squeak of the door again and the whimper of an animal.
"You can open your eyes now," William said. When they did so, they saw their father holding a squirming, fuzzy, yellow lab puppy!
"Ooh, a puppy!" they all exclaimed with delight.
"Is it for us?" Peter asked soberly.
"Yes, it is for you," William said. "Mr. Bradley at the ranch found it and suggested that I give it to you as a Christmas present."
"Oh, do tell Mr. Bradley that we said to thank him," said Sunny sincerely.
"What are we going to name it?" asked Timothy, as the puppy ran all over the room.
"How about Frisker?" suggested Katie.
"That's a good name," agreed Olivia.
"Frisker is his name," Eddie solemnly declared.
Katie and Olivia prepared a light lunch that the family enjoyed before a relaxing afternoon spent amusing themselves quietly. Timothy worked a puzzle while Katie, Olivia, and the twins were knitting scarves for the ranch hands. Eddie and Peter crafted a road for their cars out of blocks which Frisker sniffed suspiciously. Deciding that the blocks were not going to harm him, he curled up in front of the fire. William read aloud from Rudyard Kipling’sJust-So Stories and Elise carefully stitched on a new dress for Baby Patsy who was upstairs taking a nap.
William paused in his reading to add some wood to the fire and noticed that he had just used the last piece of wood from the woodbox.
"Timothy, would you please go get some more wood from the pile outside?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir. I'll do that," Timothy replied as he rose and walked toward the door. When Frisker heard Timothy open the door to go outside, he jumped up to follow. As soon as Frisker saw the open door he quickly dashed out, being curious and wanting to know what was beyond the door.
"Frisker! Come back here!" Timothy commanded, running after him and forgetting to shut the door. Suddenly, Timothy froze in his tracks and stared in astonishment.
"Pa, come look," he called softly, picking up the puppy and going back to the door.
"What is it?" William asked, heading toward the door.
"It's deer!" squealed Sunny, who had gotten to the door first.
"A whole herd of deer," observed Elise.
"They look awfully thin and hungry," said Peter with pity in his voice.
"Why don't we give them the extra horse feed we have," Eddie suggested.
"That's a great idea, Eddie. Let's go get that feed," William said, getting his boots and coat and heading toward the barn. Everyone else eagerly followed.
"Yes Eddie?" William was saying goodnight to the boys after they had finished dinner and Bible time.
"Papa, tonight at Bible time you had read something about Jesus being the savior of the world, didn't you?"
"Yes, I read John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' We discussed how Jesus came to give life to the world and to take the punishment that we deserved which is death. Is that what you remember?"
"Yes, and I was also thinking that we were like Jesus today."
"Well, we were a savior to the deer from hunger, just like Jesus is our savior from death, isn't that right Papa?"
"Yes, you are right Eddie," William answered. "You are right."
Note: Babbitt Ranches is a ranch in Northern Arizona. In 1925 there was a disease called Scab detected among the cattle. Dipping vats were built in various locations, and a total of 27,000 heads of cattle needed to be dipped in a medicated bath.