Christmas in the Valley

Part One

      Ducky, feeling the effects of too much sun, decided to take a brief nap. It had been a busy morning playing and frolicking in the water with her siblings. Spike, her adopted spiketail brother, never went near the water for he could not swim. He preferred to spend his mornings eating, and eating, and eating. That was the way of spiketails, said Ducky's mother, they pretty much eat all the time. Okay, so Spike does not swim, and tends to have a bottomless appetite, but he is fun to play with, and to love.
     On this late morning, Ducky, finding a shady spot near the pond, looked back at her friends still hard at play. She had already excused herself from their company, explaining she was a bit tired and in need of a little shut-eye. In her place by the crystal blue pond, amid lush ferns and tall trees, she soon drifted off to sleep. She had not been asleep long before waking up to sounds of laughter and singing. Yawning and stretching wearily, Ducky slowly opened her eyes, wondering why all the merriment.
     Once she forced her eyes wide open, Ducky gasped. What was going on? As if by magic, the entire valley was covered with bright lights, the trees trimmed in shiny, silvery tinsel, and many more beautiful sparkly round things hung from every branch. She inhaled deeply, taking in the heady fragrances of evergreen and bayberry. She smelled something else, though she could not quickly identity it. To her it smelled spicy and sweet, all the same.

     Rubbing her eyes as if telling herself she was not dreaming, Ducky got up, looked around, then asked her mother, "Momma, why is the Great Valley all covered with this stuff? It is very, very, pretty. It is, it is. But...Why?"
     Mrs. Beakmouth smiled at her daughter, replying, "I don't know, Ducky. Those people, our new neighbors, dropped by for an afternoon visit. They brought us a little holiday cheer. I have no idea what holiday it is."

     Just who are these "new neighbors", and why did they come to Gotoma's Valley to spread holiday cheer? What holiday? Is all this decoration part of the celebration?

     Wait...Gotoma's Valley. The Gotoma? The same legendary dinosaur who founded the Nesting Grounds long ago? How did the Great Valley gang find their way from their Jurassic home to a place so obviously Cretaceous. It is a long story, so I will try to explain as briefly as possible.
     Not long after a visit from three Jedi, the Nesting Ground residents received another human visitor, this time one of the Jedi's descendent. She helped to lead the Herd to their new home in Oz. That's right, the magical, marvelous land of Oz. In fact, the Herd was the second group of dinosaurs to make the journey from their home to Oz. What a shock for Aladar and company to find the fabled Great Valley herd as their neighbors! Old Eema thought she was dreaming, and Baylene was just too thrilled to reconnect with the Longneck family, creatures she met in passing during her childhood.
     Just who was that lady who helped relocate these ancient animals to this fairyland paradise? A musician by trade, yet she possessed a telling connection with the Force, although she never knew of this power. The really weird part was when she learned there was not only Jedi but a bit of Mesozoic in her bloodline. By some wildly fantastic phenomena, Maddie was actually related to the Longnecks, Bron's sister to be precise.(1)
     At any rate, the assorted herd of dinosaurs and lemurs had to adjust greatly to their new home, and its permanent residents. Odd still that iguanodons, sauropods, ceratopsians, and lemurs rubbed shoulders with various humans, a man made of tin, a lion, a scarecrow, a patchwork girl, and a curious looking fellow with a pumpkin head. Yet, despite the culture shock, everyone learned to live with and love each other in peace and harmony. One thing which earned the Herd's gratitude: No predators or other dangers – no Sharpteeth, carnotaurs, raptors, egg thieves, "sinking sand," or "Mysterious Beyond."

     Ducky, ever wondering about the bright, colorful decor, decided to take a tour of her newly refurbished valley. She touched one of the shiny balls hanging from the trees, giggling as she watched her distorted image reflected from the silver glass. She looked up and noticed something else hanging from the tree. Without warning, Spike came up to her and planted a big, wet lick to her face.
     "Spike!," she said with a giggle, "I know you love me, and I love you, too. Tee hee!"
     From behind, she heard another familiar voice. "Oh, Ducky, Spike kissed you because you're standing under the mistletoe."
     Now Ducky had to ask, "Mistletoe? What is that?" She turned around to see the lemur Suri and the terrier Toto laughing. No, they weren't laughing at Ducky; they were just too happy because this was a special day.
     Toto said, "We hang mistletoe all over the place. Back in Kansas, Uncle Henry would hang the stuff over the doorway leading to the kitchen. Then he would catch Aunt Em and kiss her. Dorothy always clapped and laughed. It was all in fun, though. At this time of year, everyone feels love and joy."
     Ducky, still in the dark about mistletoe and the other decorations, asked Toto, "I do not understand. What time of year is it?"
    Toto replied, "Why, it's Christmas time!"

    Christmas? What is Christmas?

     Suri, seeing Littlefoot and Cera helping Dorothy and Aladar set up more decorations, and Nick Chopper, the tin woodman, unpack a very special box, said, "That's okay, Ducky. None of us knew what Christmas was until Dorothy told us. See, the humans celebrate it every winter. They decorate their homes, sing special songs, give gifts to each other, and make lots of good things to eat."
     Ducky, glancing over at her brother Spike gazing hungrily as Aunt Em and Jellia Jamb laid out a holiday feast fit for a king, giggled again, saying, "Spike already likes Christmas. He does, he does. See? It is the goodies part he really likes."

    "Oh my goodness!"
    That was Baylene as she watched Nick and the Wizard remove items from that special box.

     Ducky gasped as she saw Nick very carefully remove several items. They looked like statues – Oh yes, Ducky and her friends had seen statues before. One of the first they saw since coming to live in Oz was a statue of Dorothy in the gardens of Nick Chopper's castle in Winkie Country.
     Except these statues were different. There were several of animals the dinosaurs and lemurs had not seen in their prehistoric world. Toto explained that these represented the sheep, donkey, and oxen who witnessed a miraculous event.
     "What was so miraculous?," Ducky asked.
     "Me no know," said Petrie, "but must be something to do with Christmas. See? Nick take out more statues."
      Indeed, there were more, this time of humans. There was a man, a lady, a baby, two or three other men, and three more men Toto said were kings.
    Ducky stood mesmerized as Nick and his friends set up the figures. But wait, there was more. Once most of the statues were out of the box, Nick took out one last figure, and something else. The first was what, to Ducky, looked like a lady but she had wings. The last item was a huge, bright star.
     "What is all that?," she asked.
     "I don't know, Ducky," said Bron who had just walked up. "It must be something wonderful."

     Now Ducky grew impatient. No one was telling her what this Christmas was all about. So she walked up to Nick and the Wizard, asking, "Professor Diggs, what is Christmas? Toto told me that you celebrate with music and decorations, but I still do not understand."
     Ducky, as all the dinosaurs and lemurs, addressed the Wizard of Oz as "Professor Diggs" because that is his name.
     The Wizard, ever the kindly man, bent down and said, "You, my dear Ducky, have yet to learn the significance of this special day, as do your friends and parents. How thoughtless of us to deck the valley with symbols of the season without explaining why we do this. So, why not let us finish dressing up your valley, then you will learn what Christmas is all about."
     He winked at Ducky then turned to Nick, saying, "Here, my galvanized friend, allow Dorothy and me to finish setting up the Nativity scene. You gather Aladar and the others. Our special Christmas Eve celebration will begin soon."
     Nick nodded, replying, "I can't wait for this evening." He looked at Ducky, smiled, adding, "You're in for a treat, my little friend. There'll be lots of music, food, and good merriment. Just make sure your brother doesn't eat all the plum pudding."

      Plum pudding...holly...ivy...a special baby. Gee, thought Ducky, I have so much to learn about Christmas.
      Noticing the bewildered look on Ducky's face, Littlefoot said, "Don't worry, Ducky. My dad says we'll learn this evening, during the celebration. Besides, we're supposed to sing for the grown-ups. You don't want to miss that."
     Poor Ducky! Not only did she have no clue about Christmas, but now she was expected to sing. A choir made up of dinosaurs, lemurs, humans, and other assorted beings.
     "This is so confusing," she said with a sigh. "It is, it is. But, Littlefoot, what are we singing?"
     Cera shrugged, replying, "All I know it's a song about holly and ivy. I asked what it meant, but the Wizard said we'll soon find out. Come on, we don't want to be late."

     That said, the kids took off to where Maddie stood. On this night, she wasn't singing with the choir; she would play with the orchestra.
      Madeline Tasou – She changed her last name when she came to Oz – looked over her odd little choir. She laughed, saying, "Kids, this is a very simple song, but I want you to feel the words. Don't worry. Once you hear the Wizard and Ozma read the story of the first Christmas, and the Scarecrow explaining why we decorate evergreens and give presents, it will all come together for you."
     Weird, thought Ducky, that this very nice and pretty human lady turned out to be Littlefoot's aunt, Bron's sister. That was a long, extremely involved story in itself. Something about dying then coming back as a human. That is how it was all explained. To Ducky it was all very wonderful, but still very strange.
     Anyway, while the kids practiced their song, Ducky noticed something else. Is that Aladar and Grandpa Longneck practicing a song, too? Did she hear Zini sing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," as he draped holly over the trees? Even Spike, who wouldn't sing with the kids – he is the silent type after all – got caught up in the holiday spirit as Aunt Em let him sample his first taste of spiced apple cider. Ducky's mom helped Eema and Baylene greet the guests already coming to the valley for a gala evening. Everyone was cheerful, joyous, happy, except Ducky.

     Why is everyone so happy? Everyone feels the Christmas spirit except me. Even with all my friends around me, I feel so confused and alone. I do, I do...

Please go to
Part Two.

This story contains many "sneak peeks" of the upcoming multi-crossover "Jedi in OZ". How the heroine Madeline learns she is related to the Longnecks will be detailed in that future fan fiction. Back where you were

Copyright © 2006 by PRP

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