Earlier this evening, Christmas music wrapped around Matthew like a magic blanket. Children and adults of all shapes and sizes hurried and shouted throughout the mall.
It was exciting to see Christmas trees dressed in all colors, hockey equipment and trains. Video games and toy soldiers scattered like snowflakes across display tables.
"Stop crying, I can't afford that!" one adult said. In the parking lot, Matthew could not shut out angry voices. "Hey you! That's my spot!"
Now it was Christmas Eve and Matthew stood by his bedroom window. From his second floor window Victoria Park looked peaceful.
"This should be a happy time," Matthew said, patting his cat, Boots. Victoria Park was in the center of town, filled with hiking trails and a Reservoir, the size of a little lake.
Mom gave him a huge smile as she leaned over and kissed him goodnight. "What special gift would you like for Christmas Matthew?" she asked.
"Peace on earth," he whispered.
"Where did you get such a serious thought?" she asked.
His answer was a monster hug. He knew wishes were supposed to be secret, but mom was special.
Sleepy eyes closed as the clock ticked towards midnight. Around 11:00 PM Matthew heard a sound downstairs. Being a curious boy, he got out of bed and went to investigate.
It sounded like a dog, whining outside the front door. Was it a hungry stray? After getting a plate of leftover supper from the fridge, he opened the door. Matthew almost fell backwards as he saw a gray wolf. Its huge mouth was open with a sort of happy panting.
For some strange reason, Matthew wasn't afraid.
Boy and animal stared at each other. Matthew knew in his heart he was to go somewhere with this creature. He quietly returned upstairs, put on boots, and warm clothes. Don't forget mitts and a hat.
By the time he returned, three more wolves waited outside. And this young boy, surrounded by four wolves headed down the street.
A neighbor peeked out her window, and let out a loud GASP. After receiving her phone call, the Truro Police Department sent an urgent message: "Boy kidnapped by wolves!"
A Cab driver yelled into his CB radio, "Wolves on the street!" Late night walkers rushed to their homes and locked the doors. Loud shouting began between neighbors up and down Park and Rosewyn Streets.
The wolf leader crossed the street and entered Victoria Park, with its 1,000 acres of woods. Matthew followed. He knew this path led to the little lake.
By now a crowd had gathered on the sidewalk. "That way!" someone shouted, pointing to the Park Entrance. Officers from two Police cars parked then joined everyone heading for the park.
Christmas eve celebrations were swept from their minds like dust balls. Saving a little boy from wild animals was much more important.
Not far ahead, four wolves waited as Matthew rested against a birch tree. Within his heart Matthew knew he was on a special mission. The wolves seemed to know exactly where they were going.
They began to run when they heard the tramp of many feet. Shouting words were part of a growing mob of people. Some carried thick branches, others had baseball bats.
Fear was in their hearts.
It was as if the whole town was on the move. They left behind fancy Christmas treats and pretty decorations. Even getting ready for Santa was forgotten. What was more important now than rescuing a little boy on Christmas Eve?
Matthew noticed a large number of animals on the side of the trail. Feathers from crows, chick-a-dees and ducks fluttered everywhere.
Why weren't they flying away? Matthew wondered.
"Creatures in the forest are usually nervous around people," dad once said.
Suddenly, the wolf leader stopped then raised his snout. A piercing "OWWWOOUUU" was his signal for the other wolves to join in.
Matthew could see the forest filling up with more animals and birds. Larger trees were like a clothesline for canaries, partridges, and owls.
Every animal and bird he knew from his school library seemed to be here. Behind shrubs and trees were coyotes, rabbits and beaver, even mice and deer. Bear and moose were also here.
An army of people from the town was amazed to see so many wildlife sights. "OOHS" and "AAHS" came from people of all ages, shapes and sizes. There were too many animals and birds to count.
As if on a signal, each adult placed sticks and baseball bats on the ground. This special hush in the forest was something they did not want to mess up. They could see Mathew and the wolves on a grassy field, beside the town's little lake.
And they listened as four wolves howled greetings to the night sky. The moon shone its flashlight beam upon Matthew and the wolves. Everyone could see the boy was fine. And he wasn't afraid beside four shaggy wolves.
Very softly, a humming arose from thousands of trees. Flapping wings lifted slowly, then rapidly, causing echoes of 'Whooshing' throughout the woods.
Every limb quivered.
Birds and animals joined in with their own calls, creating a musical symphony. Loon melodies lifted majestically into the sky. Deer added 'blowing' sounds meant to soothe their young.
And dozens of beaver slapped muscled tails as they dove like arrows into the reservoir of water.
Men, women and children gasped in wonder as a mixture of enchanting sounds captured their ears. Music was about a love of the forest, to live in peace, one with another.
It was a message felt by each human, filling empty spaces in their hearts. Everything was peaceful as mist drifting through the trees.
Then silently as if a baton had been raised, all animals and birds were still. Their singing, reaching far into the sky and beyond the hills, ended.
Patient adults could barely hold in their excitement.
As if that same unseen baton twirled, an army of children's voices began to sing. They proudly stood and sent their own message of peace. It arose from the forest as a magnificent wave.
Adults joined in, wishing to be part of this great symphony. As if by magic, animals, and birds also came together in harmony.
The forest shook with powerful sounds, strange in their delivery, but rising as a stairway to the stars. Creatures of fur, and feathers, along with humans carried a message of love and peace on earth.
It was now Christmas morning!
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
NOTE: One day, it would be nice to see this story published by an E-book publisher in picture book form. (R&E)
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.