Tick Tock the Christmas Mouse
An original story by Christine Thomas Doran with illustration by Nancy Van Buren
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
Norman Vincent Peale
Do you believe in the magic of Christmas? Gather around children, and listen to a Christmas tale that took place a very long time ago.
It was Christmas Eve at the beautiful old Kaminski House. The evening had been long and exciting, but after the last touring guest had closed the large foyer door with a clunk, a peacefulness floated down like a soft blanket of snow. All was very still and quiet except for the echoes of creaking sounds deep within the old, tired rooms and the whistling of a north wind as it clattered against the window panes. “Haawwmm,” the mansion seemed to yawn as it settled into a comfortable winter night’s sleep, but enchantment was brewing…
The magic of a Christmas miracle was about to begin within the walls of the Kaminski House! If one looked very closely, a scattering of sparkly golden dust could be seen shimmering and whirling around in the darkness in every little hidden space and corner.
Suddenly, the silence was broken. “Creeeak,” the narrow door of the tall, ancient grandfather clock slowly opened. A small ivory colored mouse peeked out his little whiskered face. He wore a tiny festive jacket of red and green velvet, and a black beret jauntily tilted to one side. He rather looked like a French artist! The handsome grandfather clock had been his secret home for a very long time. That’s why the mouse’s friends called him Tick Tock.
Tick Tock and the grandfather clock, whose name was Humphrey, had also been best friends for a very long time. Humphrey had stood tall and straight telling the time and guarding the foyer, like a brave soldier, for many years. The pediment on the top of his gleaming mahogany wood case looked like a crown, and it made the old grandfather clock look very regal and majestic. Humphrey’s clock face was a shiny silver and gold, and his hands and Roman numerals were a shiny black.
“Merry Christmas Eve, Humphrey!” exclaimed Tick Tock to his old friend. His shiny, black, bead-like eyes sparkled in excitement!
“Humph!” said the grandfather clock, rather grumpily. “I suppose it’s merry.”
Tick Tock smiled and said, “It’s a very merry time of the year, Humphrey! Listen! The magic of Christmas has started to happen!” The sounds of chatter and sparkling laughter floated from the parlor next door like chirping cardinals in a frosty winter garden.
The little mouse scurried from the large foyer into the lovely parlor. Its exquisite crystal chandelier cast a warm glow as a magical scene unfolded right before his starry eyes. Tick Tock paused to listen and to watch the joyful merriment. Humphrey couldn’t see into the parlor, because his place was in the foyer, but he could hear the happy conversation very well. Everyone was chatting about the wonderful Christmas Eve tour that had happened earlier that night at the Kaminski House!
Prissy Miss Cassandra, the sofa, gushed with excitement, “Oh! Listen everyone! Did you all see that pretty young lady in the black velvet dress tonight? She came right over to me and sat upon my soft cushions!” Miss Cassandra felt oh so queenly with her adorned scrolled arms and cushions of navy blue, gold, and cream striped silk fabric!
Proud Walter, the comfy chair stated, “Ahem! Well! Did you all see that handsome gentleman sit upon my seat? He looked very spiffy in his dark blue wool suit! He almost looked as spiffy as I!” he said with a wink. “He picked my soft padded seat to sit upon!” Walter’s curved back was made of dark, gleaming mahogany wood, and his feet were carved to look like little boots! Walter felt very noble!
Back in the foyer, Tick Tock noticed that Humphrey was looking a little dull and downcast. “What’s wrong?” he asked his friend.
“Oh, it’s nothing, really. I’m okay. I’m just a little sad. That’s all,” answered the old grandfather clock, as he frowned and sighed deeply. He had been listening very carefully to the merry chitchat from the parlor. Little did Humphrey know, but his parlor friends had been listening to him as well.
Tick Tock looked into the unhappy face of his old friend, and he knew in his heart that something was wrong. The parlor friends knew that something was wrong, too, because they had also heard the sadness in Humphrey’s voice. They all began to worry a little bit about their once exuberant old friend. The grandfather clock had lived in the Kaminski House for as long as they had.
However, the lively conversation from the parlor continued, and it was suddenly interrupted by the deep booming voice of Reggie the tea table. With a bit of happy arrogance, he said, “Hear, hear! Without my well-polished tabletop, the tea set would have sat upon the floor!” Reggie felt positively ecstatic! He was from merry old England, and that made him feel jolly good!
Just then, high-pitched laughter and the clatter of china dishes could be heard flowing from the parlor. “Oh, now what!” complained Humphrey, rolling his eyes in his handsome clock face. He was beginning to feel a little annoyed by all the vivacious chatter. Tick Tock’s little feet left behind a poof of dust, as he scurried off again to see what was going on now.
“My, my, my,” spouted prim Miss Rosalee, the shining silver teapot with the ebony handle. “That is quite true dear Reggie! I had the most delicious gingerbread spiced tea in my lovely tummy pot. I served everyone very well upon your most elegantly round table top! Wouldn’t you agree my darling little teacup friends?” Miss Rosalee felt very proper indeed!
“Oh, yes, yes, yes!” giggled the dainty gold rimmed teacups, Jolie and Cosette, as they chimed in with voices that sounded like tinkling bells. “We adored the way you poured your fragrant tea into our floral china cups! It made us feel all warm and fuzzy! Oh, yes, yes, yes! All the guests said, ‘Mmmmm!’” Jolie and Cosette blushed with a rosy glow as they sat with Miss Rosalee upon Reggie, the tea table.
Again, Tick Tock left the joyful scene to go check on his dear
old friend, Humphrey. Hoping to cheer him up, the little mouse laughed aloud and said eagerly, “Humphrey, you heard all the excitement from the next room! Isn’t the magic of Christmas wonderful?”
“Yes, of course I did, but I feel rather lonely out here in the foyer all by myself. I feel useless,” Humphrey answered glumly.
Wrinkling his little brow, Tick Tock asked with concern, “Useless? Why do you feel useless? I don’t understand.” The little mouse had always thought that his clock friend was very strong and extremely important standing tall and upright in the front hall. Tick Tock had always admired Humphrey.
The grandfather clock again sighed deeply and slowly answered, “Well, everything in the other room feels proud and so important. They all have a purpose, and they all feel good about themselves. What good am I? I just stand here all day long. My clock doesn’t even work anymore like it used to long ago. Nobody even notices me! I don’t shine and sparkle like all the others in the parlor. I’m just a broken old clock. I can’t even say tick tock, and my pendulum doesn’t swing back and forth. I may as well be tossed out with the rubbish.” He gave another very long loud sigh. Humphrey did not see that he was, in fact, still quite grand! His mahogany frame gleamed in the soft glow of the foyer light.
“But Humphrey! You’ve always provided a home for me! You’ve always been my best friend, and that’s important!” said Tick Tock. Tears began to well up in his dark eyes. Oh, how he wanted his friend to feel better! But, alas, Humphrey continued to look as downcast as a day without sunshine.
The grandfather clock’s hands turned down into a frown. He answered back, “Yes, but I don’t have that joy of Christmas like everyone else.”
In the meantime, in between their happy banter, the lively group in the parlor had heard everything cheerless Humphrey had said about himself. They had heard the voice of Tick Tock as he had tried to encourage their old friend. It troubled them greatly that he had no joy, for they loved their friend very much. The little teacups, Jolie and Cosette, were especially sad. From where they sat upon Reggie, the tea table, they lovingly called out in their tinkling bell voices, “It’s okay Humphrey. We all love you just the way you are. We wish we could bring you some gingerbread spiced tea to lift your spirits.”
From his place, Humphrey replied wistfully to his parlor friends, “Thank you all for caring about how I feel. You are all my true friends, too, just like Tick Tock. But I just can’t shake off this bad feeling I have about myself.”
All at once, a hush fell upon this lovely parlor scene, and the lively chatter stopped. The light began to grow brighter, and they all sensed that something amazing was about to happen! Suddenly, a brilliant light sparkled and shimmered in their midst, and it took everyone’s breath away! The radiant light illuminated the parlor and also sent rays of brightness into the foyer where Tick Tock and Humphrey stood. What in the world was going on, Tick Tock wondered? Hesitating, the little mouse peeked around the corner and looked into the light. A look of shock shone in his bright eyes, and his little mouth fell open! Tick Tock gasped at what he saw!
In the center of the room stood the majestic Christmas tree, Splendor, so called because she was so splendid and had the beauty of an angel. Splendor almost touched the ceiling, and the twinkling white lights that wove in and out of her emerald green branches were like the shining stars in a clear winter’s sky. Adorning Splendor at the very top was a magnificent, crystal star that shined like a dazzling diamond! Enchantment and the miracle of Christmas swirled around each and every nook and cranny of the Kaminski House. Then, in the next instant, Splendor laughed with happiness, “I wish you all love, hope, peace, and joy! They are the miracle and magic of Christmas, and may they be with you all year long!”
An exquisite feeling of love pulsated throughout the room, and an explosion of voices filled the parlor! “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Joy to the world!”
Tick Tock looked up into the sad face of the regal grandfather clock. He exclaimed, “Humphrey! Do you believe in the miracle and magic of Christmas? It’s real, Humphrey! It’s real! I do believe in it! Can you feel it? It’s all around us right now! It’s surrounding you, Humphrey!” In that minute something wondrous occurred!
“Whooosh,” a gentle gust of air swirled and whirled around Humphrey like a miniature tornado! Then, the grandfather clock seemed to positively glow inside and outside with glittering white light. Bursting with merriment, the old grandfather clock laughed with glee! “Yes! Yes! I do believe in it! I feel it all around me! What’s happening?” The once sad clock could feel the love, hope, peace and joy of Christmas embracing and surrounding him like a soft comforter. He suddenly felt new and absolutely splendid!
At that precise and magical moment, Humphrey’s golden pendulum began to swing back and forth! The sound of “tick, tock” could now clearly be heard by all his friends, and they were all surprised and amazed! The hands on his gleaming face inched closer toward 12:00 midnight. Tick Tock, the mouse, excitedly counted the ringing sound of chimes: one, two, three…all the way up to 12!
Completely shocked, Humphrey yelled, “I’m working everybody! I’m not broken anymore! I can tell time again! It’s like I’m new! Hahaha!” He wanted his friends in the next room to hear him and to share in his joy!
Tick Tock squeaked in excitement, “Humphrey! Do you realize what you’ve done? You’ve rung in Christmas Day! Christmas Eve is over! It’s Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!”
In the glowing parlor, a chorus of thrilled voices erupted again! “Merry Christmas! Hooray for Humphrey! Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray!” Miss Cassandra, Walter, Reggie, Miss Rosalee, Jolie, and Cosette were overjoyed with delight for their old friend when they heard him ring the 12 chimes to announce the arrival of Christmas day! The love they shared for dear Humphrey and for each other was what the magic of Christmas was all about.
In the bright foyer, a once sad and rather dull grandfather clock, who had once felt a lack of importance, now beamed with pride! Humphrey exclaimed, “It’s a very merry day indeed! Thank goodness for Christmas miracles! Merry Christmas! Thank you, my friends, for believing in me, and now I believe in myself.” Humphrey was very contented now because he knew he had a purpose just like everyone else in the Kaminski House.
Tick Tock’s eyes twinkled as he looked into the face of his friend, “Humphrey, you have always shined and sparkled! You have always been important! You just didn’t realize it.” The little mouse loved seeing his friend’s happiness, and that was the best Christmas gift he could have ever wished for!
At last a hush fell upon the old Kaminski House and soon everyone was fast asleep. The lights grew dim and all the excitement faded. But a few sparkles of magic still glimmered here and there and in the corners of the foyer and parlor. I think that may have been the old house winking at us!
“Now children,” whispered Tick Tock with a wink, “do you believe in the magical miracle of Christmas?”
– Christine Doran of Georgetown is the author, with her husband Tom, of the “Flash and Fancy” series of otter stories, also illustrated by Nancy Van Buren, who lives in Litchfield.