T'was the night before Christmas and one restless boy was far too excited to sleep. Baby Ranks sat perched on his windowsill waving a flashlight at the sky. He wanted to be extra sure that Papa Santa could see his tiny island from way up in the clouds.
Suddenly, Papa Santa appeared from behind the stars, drawn by an amazing team of flying animals. With a graceful swoop he landed his heavy cart in Baby Rank's backyard. Papa Santa jumped to the ground to see how his four-legged companions were holding up.
The Gazelle, Impala and Kudo from Africa seemed lively enough, as did the Ibex from Asia and Vicun
he had found in South America. But much to Santa's surprise, the Reindeer didn't look so hot. She had flown the farthest,
all the way from the North Pole, and had picked up a bad case of jet lag for her troubles.
"Oh my! What I'm gonna do now, mon," exclaimed Papa Santa to no one in particular. He was really startled when he felt a pair of tiny arms hug him around his leg.
"Papa Santa," yelled Baby Ranks in his most grownup and well behaved voice, "I been a good boy all year!" (He hadn't really, but he tried awfully hard the last few days.)
Santa gestured for him to keep his voice down and whispered, "Woe is me, Baby Ranks. I got all dese presents to give and me poor Reindeer is too stricken t'help me finish de trip."
Baby Ranks, who always has an answer for everything, came up with a solution to top them all.
"Why don't you borrow me daddy's pickup truck... dat way you can make all your stops on de Island and give de poor animals a chance to rest."
Papa Santa shrugged his shoulders, causing his grey dreadlocks to shake like the needles on a Christmas tree.
"But, Baby Ranks," he answered ..."I don't know my way on dese winding roads. It'll take too long t'do."
I'll show you de way," lauged Baby Ranks, "I know dis island like de back o'me hand."
Deep down, Papa Santa doubted they'd make it in time, but he had no choice. He hoisted the bag of goodies onto the old truck and they started on their little mission.
Baby ranks never had so much fun. He had never seen his island at such a late hour. Colorful electric lights wrapped the slender trunks of island palms. Painted wooden candy canes lined the fences around one cottage. Golden tinsel hung beside the moss on the dark mangroves. They rolled from house to house, over dirt roads and highways, up steep hills and into hidden valleys.
Baby Ranks thought of how happy the other children would be in the morning to receive such wonderful presents. They would never guess that it was he who had helped Papa Santa deliver them.
As they dropped off the last package, the jolly old man let loose a laugh so hearty that it rocked the empty pickup truck.
"Baby Ranks," Santa said, "I'll never underestimate you again. We'll get you home wit' plenty o'time to spare!"
Nadine and Mikey, Baby Ranks's parents stood patiently beside their house, surrounded by six very well-rested animals. Papa Santa parked the wobbly
truck and bowed before them.
"Pardon an old man fi keepin' a wee babe out past him bedtime, kind people."
Then he turned and gathered a bundle from inside the pickup. It was Baby Ranks sleeping with an ear to ear smile, wrapped in Santa's Christmas sack.
"Thank you, Papa Santa, fi taking good care of me little ragamuffin," said Nadine, "Mikey noticed dat your reindeer was a bit under de weather so he gave her de old family remedy. She'll be fine now, I tink."
With a wink and a twist of his nose, Papa Santa hopped into his cart.
"Oh my," he exclaimed, "I almost forgot de most important of dem all," and from inside the cart he pulled out a brand new toy pickup truck.
"Tell m'wee helper it's a little something t'remember me by."
But Baby Ranks would remember much more than that.
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