The weather outside was dark and rainy, but no one minded, as they’d all piled into Old Possum’s living room once again, this time for their cozy Christmas-Eve gathering. First was a relaxed supper of mushroom soup and toasted cheese sandwiches, and then they took turns opening the gifts that had been stacked under the tree.
As happened every year on Christmas Eve, each gift turned out to be — surprise, surprise — a book. There were picture books, illustrated novels, stories written in lyrical prose, mysteries, histories real and imagined, ghost stories, fairy tales, poetry, and more. Once all the gifts had been unwrapped, and everyone had a new book, the adults settled into Possum’s ancient sofa and comfy chairs, while the children snuggled together on the floor, in front of the hearth.
Rabbit and Raccoon, who had set their own books aside for a moment and disappeared into the kitchen, soon returned with several pots of hot cocoa and a platter of delicate teacups, which they passed around the room, making sure everyone had a cup of chocolate.
Near-silence then descended for the remainder of the evening, as the only sounds were the turning of pages, the sipping of hot cocoa, the crackling fire, and the rain pattering on the roof and hissing and spitting in the chimney.
(Late December 2023)