Not wanting Caroline to be left alone should she wake up in the night in a strange room, her grandfather made a pallet on the carpet at the foot of the couch and went to sleep.
At the first light of dawn, Caroline opened her big beautiful eyes and looked around. At first, she seemed confused until she remembered that she had fallen asleep in her grandfather's arms. She looked down, and there he was, still fast asleep. She sat up on the couch and began to tickle her sleeping grandfather with her toes. He awoke with a start, and then the two of them looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"Caroline, stop that you silly girl!" pled her grandfather as he rolled away from her tormenting toes. "Just for that you get a big fat kiss on the cheek, and I hope my scratchy whiskers punish you for tickling your poor old decrepit grandfather who needs as much beauty rest as possible," he whined. Caroline just giggled as he jumped up, sat down beside her, gave her a big hug, and planted a grandfatherly kiss on her cheek with a loud smack.
"Grandfather, I love you more than words can say. If I didn't have you to make me laugh I don't know what I would do." said Caroline with a smile.
"Precious little granddaughter, you are the light of my life. If I didn't have you to torment me with your toes I don't know what I would do." responded the old man.
They looked at each other for a moment, then big smiles broke out on both of their faces, and they laughed so hard that tears rolled down their cheeks.
When they had calmed down, Caroline's grandfather spoke, this time in a serious voice. "Caroline, this old world has been a hard, cruel place since the beginning of time. Billions of God's children, both human and animal, have suffered at the hands of evil people. We can only hope that someday our world will be one of love and kindness and helping others and that there will be no more wars, or violence, or famine, or disease; but, until that day arrives, we must resolve that in spite of the way we may be treated we will hold our heads high in the face of adversity."
"Grandfather, I am not sure exactly what all those big words mean. You have always explained the world to me by telling me stories. I don't want to have to think like an adult. I'm still a little girl. Please tell me a story that will help me feel like I am not the only lonely child in the world; and, Grandfather..." she commanded with a stern look on her face as she stared at him with her piercing yet twinkling eyes, "make it a Christmas story!"
Her grandfather placed his hand on his chin, closed his eyes for a moment as if in deep concentration, and then began to tell his story:
One cold, autumn day, on the lonesome tundra, very near the North Pole, a herd of reindeer was heading south for the winter. They didn't have much time to reach their destination for with each passing day, the nights became longer and colder.
Snow had already begun to fall and cover the tundra vegetation so that it was necessary for the reindeer to use their hooves to rake back the snow in order to find enough to eat.