A Christmas Stocking Yarn (from “8 Christmas Stories”)

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A CHRISTMAS STOCKING YARN

My sister, Petula, her friend, Suzie, and I sat glued to the TV. The Mutant Ninja Turtles swooped down on the bad guys. The Turtles were about to clout them — when a news bulletin filled the screen.
“Oh no!” I whined. “We’ll miss the best part.”
The girls stared as if to say, “Five-year-olds should be seen and not heard”.
“This is a special report. At about eight o’clock tonight, a portion of Arkansas from Arkadelphia to Pine Bluff will be deluged by a fast-moving invasion of moths from the Gulf of Mexico. Citizens are warned to close windows and doors, and leave no clothing exposed.”
Suzie looked at my sister. “Petula, that’s us. Malvern is right in the path. I’d better get home and make sure our house is closed.”
I gave her my nerdiest laugh.”Two weeks ’til Christmas with temperatures in the thirties? Who’d have their windows open? Huh! Moths! Can you imagine? I’d sure like to see some…”
Petula stood over me. “Billy, sometimes I’d like to…”
Mom’s voice came from downstairs. “Petula, are you using the phone? You know you’re not allowed.”
I gave Pet a wry look and grinned.
“I’m not, mom,” she yelled and swiped my head.
That’s what she gets for over-using the phone. Maybe things will be better when she’s nine.  Yeah, maybe the phone rates will go up – or she’ll lose her voice.
I made nasty faces at her and she made a grab for me as I charged out of the room.
I heard Suzie dash to the door behind me.
“Have to go, Pet. See you tomorrow.” She whizzed by me and was gone.
Next morning I finished my second piece of french toast as I waited for Petula to catch the school bus. I spotted Suzie’s blonde pony tail bobbing as she ran out of the yard next door toward the post office with a letter. I chased her, puffing from the effort.
“Bet that’s your Santa letter, right? Daddy mailed mine last night.”
Suzie nodded. “I have to get this to the Post Office, Billy. Tell Pet I’ll see her at school.”
After school that day, I ate my second peanut butter and jelly snack as I waited for the school bus. Petula jumped off and sat down next to me crying.
“What’s the matter, Pet?”
“Only a major disaster, that’s all, Billy,” she blurted. She talks that way sometimes. “You wouldn’t understand; you’re too young.”
I gave her my blank look, licked my fingers, and wiped them on my shirt.
“Those moths ate holes in all the post office mail bags. They can’t deliver letters to Santa!”
I almost lost my peanut butter; I felt like I’d been kicked by a reindeer. I asked Santa for a King Arthur sword and shield. Now moths had eaten holes in my dream, too. I almost cried in front of my sister. Now that would be a disaster.
“When I get home, I’ll tell mom, Pet. Maybe she can…”
“I’m gonna do something. Those letters have to get to Santa!” she said. She stormed off toward the house. I liked her attitude, but King Arthur was a fading vision.
That afternoon as I fed cookies to our dog, Spat, I saw Petula from my bedroom door. She dialed one number after another and talked rapidly on the phone. Mom must be out shopping ‘cause Pet isn’t supposed to use the phone.
What’s she doing now? I wondered.
Curious, I wiped my grungy hands on the bedspread, tip-toed across the hall, and settled near her door to listen. Her voice was muffled, but I heard her say: “Yes, you have to, Maryann. We all have to — if we want Christmas gifts this year. Call five girls and boys and tell them to do the same.”
I sank to the floor, scratched my head, and thought over her words. What was she up to now? I wondered.
I wandered out to the yard, heard the phone ring next door, and hid under the window as Suzie answered.
“My what? Of course I have some. I’ll bring them right down. I’ll call five others when I get back…Okay then, before I go.”
I went home and climbed the stairs slowly as Petula rushed to her room. I heard her hunting through her dresser drawers. She dashed past me on the stairs with a small bundle.
“Where ya goin’, Pet?”
“Tell you later, Billy. Have to run.”
Something was going on, and I meant to find out what. I followed her down the street. She was fast and I could barely keep her in sight.. Petula headed straight for the Post Office — where a crowd of kids was lined up with bundles of — stockings?
Yes, stockings! Red, green, candy-striped, gray, white, big, small, and especially l-o-n-g stockings.
They were handing them to – Mr. Parker, the Postman!
I saw Petula and ran to her.
“I don’t get it, Pet…”
“The mail bags are full of moth holes, Billy. So I thought, every year Santa puts wonderful things in our stockings. Why not donate our stockings to the post office to carry our letters to the North Pole.”
How can you not love a sister like her – maybe once a year?
And that’s the whole story — well, almost the whole story.
Christmas morning, I was afraid to look under the tree. I mean, suppose there weren’t any gifts! Calamity! Mothsville.
But you know what?
I found a beautiful King Arthur’s sword and shield. I even had a great silver helmut that matched the shield – with a movable visor.
All because my sister, Petula, got kids to donate their stockings to serve as mail bags.
See ya later. Have to try out my new sword on Bobby Kelly down the street. He got a sword, too, but not a neat helmut like mine.
Imagine all those stockings going to Santa. You have to admit.
That’s some yarn!