Masha The Christmas Cat.
Long ago in a land far away from here, it was a cold winters night. The sky above the little village was clear and bright, with stars shining so brightly on the twinkling snow, that the night was as bright as day. A chilly cat scampered into a small barn which was open to the weather on one side. It was cold in the barn too, so Masha the cat curled up in the hay near the strong and very large ox. His name was Bior, and he was always kind to the small cat, happy to share his big warmth. Masha liked living there. Birds lived in the rafters, and the Innkeeper who owned the little barn looked after the animals well.
It was a quiet life until one night a man called Joseph, and Mary, a woman riding a donkey, came to spend the night. Though it was cold outside, most of the winter wind was kept out of the barn. Masha could see that the woman was going to have a baby soon, and she seemed tired from her travels. She led her donkey to the straw near Bior the ox. Then the kind Mary called to Masha, and patted her fur gently. ' My, little cat, you have a nice warm winter coat,' and she pulled her own cloak closer around her. Joseph made a small fire to keep them warm and give them light. Masha came closer to the fire, it was so warm and cozy. She curled up and fell fast asleep. 'Purr, purrr.' she softly sang while she was sleeping.
The night was still and clear and a fine bright star, bigger and more brilliant than all the other stars shone in the sky above the little barn.
In the middle of the night, Masha was awakened. A baby was crying in Mary's arms. Joseph was making a cradle out of straw. Mary had wrapped up the new baby in soft cloth, but when Mary put him in the straw cradle, he cried louder from the cold. Masha looked at the baby. He was beautiful! Masha climbed into the straw and curled her soft warm fur around the baby's feet and legs. Before you knew it the baby stopped crying and fell asleep. His cheeks became rosy and sweet. Mary patted the cat and said, 'thank you dear cat for the gift of warmth on this cold night. Babies need to be warm'! Masha licked her paws, and fell asleep again, as soundly as the baby.
A little later Masha woke up again. The little barn was full of people! Shepherds had come to visit, they had traveled far to see this child. Masha heard them say, 'this is the child who will become the King of all Mankind'. They had brought sheep milk and wool for the child. There was now a golden glow in the barn, and the shepherds' faces were full of wonder. They patted Masha too, saying 'what a good friend to the little child the cat is, keeping him so warm'! Before Masha fell asleep again she heard, in the distance, a beautiful heavenly song.....'halleluiah, halleluiah.’
One more time in the night Masha was awakened. Now the barn was filled with three Kings in fine clothes. They were kneeling by the child, their eyes teary with gladness as they gazed upon him. They too had brought gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. Their faces looked at the child with love and wisdom. 'Oh now little cat,' one King said, 'you are indeed a special cat to be warming this child. We thank you, the world thanks you!’ Masha liked all the kind words and soft pats on her fur. She stretched out her paw and put it by the baby's hand. Yes, the hand was warm. Masha fell asleep again.
In the morning the winter sun was shining into the barn. Masha got up and stretched. Had she been dreaming? The barn was empty of visitors. All that remained of the baby, Mary, Joseph, the donkey, the shepherds and kings was the straw cradle! Masha ran out in the yard. Look, there on the path, there was Mary riding the donkey, holding her child now wrapped warmly with the wool from the shepherds. Joseph walked beside them.
'Meow, meow,’ called out Masha.
Mary and Joseph stopped and turned. 'Goodbye little cat,’ they called and waved. 'Thank you again for your gift of warmth!’
'Meow, meow,’ answered Masha, watching them go on their journey.
Winter passed quietly after that, and when spring came to the land Masha curled up once again on the straw cradle in the little barn. She was keeping more babies warm now. Three little kittens snuggled under mama Masha, safe and sound. Bior the ox chewed his straw and I am sure he was smiling.
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