A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 24 (Part 2)

December 24th – Weihnachten / Christmas Eve (Part 2)

When all the Christmas carols were sung and everyone was exhausted, it was finally time for presents. It was always the most stressful part of Christmas, having the kids eat their dinner and sing the songs with the presents piled up in the room, within view. As soon as they were allowed to get to them, the kids stormed to the pile of presents, looking at the labels and shouting out the names they could read. Manfred and his brother Michael stayed in their seats at the table, knowing they wouldn’t get any presents and, considering what they had done, knowing their chances were even lower than ever before. Then they saw Gary coming towards them, carrying a stocking in his mouth. When they crouched down to pet them, he nudged them with the stocking. It had their names on them. The brothers were overjoyed to see the two toy cars in it. In the background, the pastor was smiling.

After all the children had unwrapped their presents and were playing together happily, the pastor made an announcement, something that was unheard of in the village.

“We will have Christmas Mass here in the barn! The church would be too small to host the whole village anyway,” he smiled cheekily.
When everyone applauded, he ran back to the church to put up a sign that mass would be held at the farm. And so it happened that it ended up being the best-attended Christmas Mass in the history of the village!

Madeleine, who had no children of her own, walked outside the barn for some fresh air and to escape the noise and craziness inside; she got plenty of that every day at school. Shortly afterwards, Markus left the barn as well, cheerful and tipsy. He tried to hit on the pretty teacher, hoping that he would be a little less intimidating without his Krampus outfit, but once again she turned him down. This time, he was standing under a mistletoe and felt it was his right to get a kiss, so pulled Madeleine into an embrace.

At that moment, Gary came around the corner, having no desire to be rushed by an over-enthusiastic group of kids again and saw her struggling. He broke into a run and shoved his head right into the side of Markus’ legs. The man stumbled and fell over, right into a large puddle of slush. Madeleine laughed as the wet and muddy man clambered back to his feet, cursing as he did so. Attracted by the disturbance, Ludwig came outside to see what was going on.

“Gary saved me, he really is a hero,” Madeleine explained and gave the goat an affectionate pat on the head.
“I am sorry he tried to force you to kiss him. The man is an idiot,” Ludwig said, embarrassed.
“Yes, it was horrible, I really don’t want to kiss him at all,” she said, looking at the farmer. “I really do want to do this.”

She grabbed Ludwig’s tie, pulled him towards her and kissed him. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard Gary making retching noises in the background.


A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 24 (Part 1)

December 24th – Weihnachten / Christmas Eve (Part 1)

The adults split up into two groups in the morning. One, led by Anton, took the kids who still believed in the Christkind into Vienna to the zoo, whilst the others helped decorate the tree, covering it with hundreds of twinkling electric lights. Candles were really not an option, because there was just too much risk of burning down Ludwig’s barn with the smallest accident. With the tree completed, they finishing up the cooking and began laying out the food.

The kids at the zoo were beside themselves with joy. The anticipation of the Christkind coming and bringing all the presents, the freshly fallen snow, the animals all made it hard for the adults with them to keep them in check. More than once a kid wandered off and got lost, but eventually they found each one and made their way back to the village for the Christmas celebrations.

When they arrived back at the barn, it was already dark. The huge door opened with a deep groan, revealing nothing as it was pitch black inside. Now it was Ludwig’s turn, he flipped the switch and all the lights went on in the barn. The tree was sparkling and hundreds of lights were wrapped around the wooden beams of the barn, making it look magical. The pastor rang a big cowbell to indicate that the Christkind had visited and left presents for everyone. Suddenly, the room was full of oohs and aahs, wide-eyed children and delighted adults. Anton, who hadn’t seen the barn lit up before, gasped and his eyes widened as much as any of the children’s, though his twinkled along with the tree, as they were full of tears.

Everyone sat down at the long tables in the barn for Christmas dinner. The mayor’s sister-in-law had never had such a tasty Christmas dinner before. The rest of the village, too, enjoyed themselves and the food. There was fondue and carp, roast goose, baked apples, mulled wine, teas, and piles upon piles of Christmas cookies of almost every variety. The mood was cheerful and everyone laughed and had fun.

After dinner, it was time to sing. Even with the choir leader lying down, the choir sang the Christmas carols beautifully, and the rest of the village joined in. Lyric sheets were handed out, just in case, and the barn filled with music. Big and small, young and old, human and goat stood around the Christmas tree and sang at the top of their voices.

(to be continued…)

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 23

December 23rd 

”Gary, where are you?” he called out, but no reply came.
Then he heard a noise, a quiet crunching from the far corner of the barn. A large cardboard box sat on the floor under one of the tables and strange sounds were coming out of it. Ludwig pulled the box out from underneath the table, finding it much heavier than he had expected. The reason for the weight became clear when Ludwig opened the lip to find the goat sitting inside, surrounded by crumbs of what had once been a pile of gingerbread.

“Gary!” Ludwig shouted, and scared Gary so much that the goat stiffened up and fainted in the middle of the gingerbread crumbs.
Despite the fact that his goat had eaten a huge box full of cookies, Ludwig couldn’t help but laugh. The image of Gary with his bloated belly full of gingerbread, passed out in a circle of crumbs inside a cardboard box looked like the very definition of ‘just desserts’.

When he woke up the next morning, Gary realised he was in the farm kitchen, but still in the box with the last of the cookie crumbs. He thought this was quite excellent, because it was warmer in the kitchen and he didn’t have to move for more gingerbread, so he turned around in the box and continued to eat the delicious crumbs.

“You are insatiable,” Ludwig stated, looking down at his crazy goat.
“Fforry,” he replied, crumbs shooting out of his mouth.
Ludwig sighed and went back to preparing what felt like a ton of gingerbread dough to make up for all the cookies Gary had eaten.

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 22

December 22nd

Otto, the choir master, was under strict instructions to stay in bed and rest, but at last he was given the okay from the hospital to leave. He would stay with the pastor, where the housekeeper could help look after him. Most of the village came to visit at some point and Ludwig came up with a plan to make sure he could take part in the festivities. Since Anton was staying with Ludwig for the festivities, he was able to lend Otto his fancy, movable bed. They would be able to decorate it nicely and, by wrapping him up in festive blankets, he would be able to spend Christmas with everyone else in the barn, without disobeying doctor’s orders to stay in bed. Otto was so happy, he cried when they shared the plan with him.

Ludwig returned to the barn in the evening, to run through the plans once again, double-checking every item to ensure that nothing was missing. The villagers had done a great job, hanging up decorations, setting up the tree and piling up the presents around it. Everyone had a task and they all worked together to see it through. The electrician helped wire all the festive lights properly, so there would be no chance of a power outage. Some families had brought and set up warming plates and fridges in the barn to keep the food and drinks warm or cold, as necessary. Most brought heaters and blankets, pillows and chairs to make sure everybody would be cosy, warm and comfortable.

Huge pots of punch and boxes upon boxes of Christmas cookies began to fill the barn with the scent of cinnamon, apples, oranges cloves and gingerbread. Ludwig saw that the first items of fresh food were already in the fridge and cutlery and napkins had been laid out on the tables.

He thought he could sit in here forever, but it was getting late and the barn was no substitute for a comfortable bed.

“We should call it a night, I think, Gary,” he said.
Silence. The goat, who had been by his side all day, was gone.

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 21

December 21st

On the last school day before the Christmas holidays, Gary accompanied Ludwig to see the kids. At first, the goat stood in a corner of the room while the little monsters sat in their chairs, everyone talking over each other and clamouring for Ludwig’s attention to show him the Christmas decorations they had made. Because they didn’t know of the deal he had made with their teacher, they made him promise that he would take each kid once around the farm on his tractor.

Then the dreaded biology lesson came. When Miss Madeleine told the kids to get up slowly and carefully approach the wild animal. Gary dreaded the worst. He turned out to be right. Ten first graders jumped up from their chairs and ran at him as a single mass of bodies. The goat tensed up, afraid of what they would do to him, scared they would prod and, oh no, he realised, there it goes.
The stress was too much, and Gary passed out on the classroom floor. That was all the kids needed to spiral into a panic. Ludwig tried to convince them that they hadn’t killed Gary and he would wake up any second now, but the goat thought it best to stay tense and keep his eyes shut.

“I’m so sorry, I should’ve told you,” said Ludwig after the class, as Madeleine helped him carry all the boxes full of craftwork to the car.
“It’s fine, at least they had an exciting day before the holidays,” she smiled, gave him a quick peck on the cheek and turned to leave.
“See you at the party!” he called after her, but Madeleine had already closed the school door behind her.