Sunday, December 24, 2006

Carl And The Christmas Present

It was Christmas Eve in Savannah once again. There wasn't any snow on the ground, but you could tell the holiday was here, from the smell of cookies being baked, the lights of the trees in the houses, and everyone shopping the stores to get presents for their loved ones. And Carl Wintergarten was doing just that at this moment. He had gone online this year to pick presents for all his friends. He got a subcription for the Fish of the Month Club for his parents. He bought a remote control muscle car for Sam. He bought cards for all of his friends. With all the things that he purchased, he forgot one person for Christmas: His puppy friend, Bippy.

Carl sat and sat for hours wondering what to get his friend. Bippy was definitly on his list of folks this year as every year, but somehow with all the things he had done for everyone, Carl simply forgot. He didn't mean to. It just happened.

Carl knew he had to do something, but what could he do? He couldn't just face Bippy on Christmas Day without a gift. It would be wrong of him, he thought. So, he ran to Sam while he was putting the last touches on the tree. "Sam, Sam! We have to go shopping NOW! I forgot to get a present for Bippy this year and I don't know what to get him! I can't go online and shop, 'cause it'll be too late!"

Sam looked at Carl and told him to take a deep breath and calm down. "Carl, I hate to say this but it's sort of last minute now. It's Christmas Eve and the stores are gonna close soon. There may be nothing left in the stores at this point."

Carl said, "There just has to be something out there. Please Sam. Take me to the Mall and let me get something for Bippy." So, off in the car they went, through bad traffic. Through driving for what seemed hours to find a parking space. Trudging through crowds and crowds of other last minute shoppers to finally get to the front door of the Mall, only to hear over the loudspeakers, "The Mall will be closing in thirty minutes."

Sam looked tired, but Carl had an idea. "I got it! We'll split up! You go take one end of the Mall and I'll take the other. That way, we can both find something Bippy would like!" Before Sam could stop Carl, he had already scampered off into the crowd to the point where he couldn't be seen. Carl is, after all, very small. Carl ran and ran to each store window looking to see if there was something that Bippy would like, but unsure if it would be perfect. Sam meanwhile was looking around and asking folks if they had seen a penguin running around, which gave him very strange looks from people. Soon a voice came over the mall loudspeakers that said, "The Mall will be closing in fifteen minutes. Merry Christmas!" Sam knew he had to find Carl and get that present quick.

Finally, Carl found himself in front of the pet store where he saw in the window the perfect gift: A Neverending Chewbone. His eyes opened wide and he said, "Perfect!" as he started to walk in. But just as he did, a security guard walked up to him and said, "What are you doing in here? We don't allow unacompanied minors here in the Mall, especially unacompanied minor penguins!" Carl got scared and ran as quickly as he could to get away from the guard, but the man was on his tailfeathers. Carl dipped and ducked as much as he could through the crowd looking for Sam, but he couldn't see him. He knew he had to get away, so he ran into a children's clothing store. There, he saw a jumpsuit and a hat on a rack. He grabbed it without anyone looking, through the clothes on, jumped in the store window and stood as still as he could be. However, it wasn't a help as the guard ran by, stopped and noticed a penguin wearing kid's clothes. The guard grabbed Carl, who saw squawking and screaming for Sam to show up and off they went to the guard's office.

When they got there, the guard sat Carl down and told him that he didn't want to bring him here, but it was for his own good. Minors shouldn't be alone in malls, especially young penguins. They could get hurt or lost or ever worse. Carl started to cry and said he only came here to find last minute present for his friend Bippy and that he didn't mean to cause trouble. The guard asked Carl if he came with someone and the penguin told him who. The security guard got on the loudspeaker and said, "Will the owner of a very small penguin please come to Mall Customer Service, please?"

Sam heard the announcement and quickly ran to the office to find the guard and Carl sitting there and talking. "Thank goodnes I found you, Carl", said Sam. "I was looking everywhere for you!" The guard told Sam that Carl was fine, but that he shouldn't be alone in the Mall. Both Carl and Sam apologized for any trouble. Then Carl said, "Sam, we can still go get Bippy a present now, right?" Both Sam and the guard looked sadly, as the guard said the mall was now closing up for Christmas and that it was too late. Not a word was said in the car from Carl. He sat there as they drove home. When they got there, Sam made some hot cocoa for he and Carl, but the penguin wasn't feeling up to it. He felt as though he let his friend Bippy down. So, he hugged Sam goodnight and went off to his room where he went off to bed.

The next day was Christmas and all the presents were under the tree. Sam called Carl downstairs and the little bird came down slowly dressed in his pajamas. Sam said, "Carl, I've got a present under the tree for you, but I also have a surprize behind me." Carl wondered what that would be when all of a sudden who would step from behind Sam's back was his puppy friend, Bippy.

"Pandora said I could come over and spend Christmas with you guys", said the puppy who handed a box to Carl. Carl then began to cry. "I forgot to get you anything this year, Bippy. I went to the Mall at the last minute and got in trouble and I never got you a gift. I'm sorry, Bippy", said Carl. "That's okay," said the puppy. "The best present you gave me this year is just being my friend. That's all I ask for. Will you still be my friend next year, Carl?" The penguin hugged his friend and said they can be friends for ever and ever, no matter what.

Sam then looked under the tree and said and said, "Carl, you must have forgotten that you did get a gift for Bippy. There's something right here with his name on it." They both looked at Sam and went to the tree and saw that under it was a package that said on it, "Merry Christmas from Carl and Sam". Bippy went to open it and there it was: A Neverending Chewbone! Carl looked surprized as Bippy hugged him and said "I always wanted one of these! It's wonderful! Thank you, Carl!" The penguin smiled as he was happy that his best friend got what he wanted. Carl got what he wanted, too. An autographed photo of Burgess Meridith and a DVD of "March of the Penguins". But he just couldn't figure out how Bippy's present got under the tree. Maybe it was Santa, but however it got there he was happy either way. Because he got to share his friendship for the holidays, which is the best present anyone can give.

And as he put away the ink pen before Bippy and Carl could see it, Sam wished Carl, Bippy and YOU a very Merry Christmas.

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