A veterinarian’s family Christmas
George was a devoted professional. He sacrificed himself many times to make that late night call to the heifer having difficulty calving or that mare foaling in the wee morning hours, just before sun-up.
Even though she knew it was his duty to uphold the oath, George's wife cringed when the phone rang after hours and on holidays. She knew their livelihood depended on his work as a veterinarian, but sometimes she could not help being jealous of his time.
George was a rare critter, as he seemed to never say "no" to the call, regardless the hour of the day. He was trained well and loved and appreciated by his clients.
The days had been counting down to the time of Christmas, and it was Christmas Eve.
After a light day of calls and a few appointments at the clinic, George bid his staff a "Merry Christmas" and was closing down the shop for the holiday. As he drove his truck home to his farm, he passed the many homes, adorned for the yule time. He could see many families gathering together around their Christmas trees for a festive evening of laughter and cheer.
Passing one of the local churches on the outskirts of town, he could see a live nativity outside and luminaries lighting the way to the front door. A few parishioners had gathered by the nativity before going in for the traditional evening service. It was so serene, and George's mind focused on the animals of the nativity, remembering it was the generosity of local farmers who had assembled the impressive nativity scene.
He couldn't help but notice one of the ewes appeared to be standing off and had her head held low. George wrote it off as if the ewe was just sleeping or dozing off. He continued on home.
Upon arrival, he parked his truck in the barn as always and made his way to the back door. As he opened the door, he was met by his three children with a chorus of "Merry Christmas, Daddy!" They all took their turns jumping into his arms and getting a bear hug from this large father of theirs. He kissed his wife but noticed a bewildered look on her face.
"What's wrong, honey? It's Christmas Eve. Something bothering you?" he inquired.
He knew this facial expression all too well, as it meant someone had called for his services, and she was beside herself.
"Don't your clients know it's Christmas Eve? Can't they just give us some peace? I almost told the caller to call Dr. Smith in the neighboring town, wanting to tell them you weren't available."
George had been here before, but he knew his patients did not go by the calendar.
"Who called, dear?" George asked.
"The Rev. Bishop. You know that live nativity at the little church on the west side of town? Well, he thinks something is wrong with one of the ewes," she said. "He hoped you could come out and see to her."
George slipped his boots back on as he could see the smiles dwindling in his children and the frown developing on his wife's face.
Seeing the problem, George, being the peacemaker he was, smiled at everybody and said, "Get your coats on. You too, dear. I may need your help, and I'll be darned if I'm going to be away from my family on Christmas Eve."
Upon arrival at the church, George and his entourage were met by the Rev. Bishop, who then directed him to one of the ewes who now was laying on her side during what appeared to be labor. A small crowd of churchgoers had gathered around in curiosity to see what might come about.
George dawned an obstetrical sleeve and did an examination on the ewe, but because of the size of the birth canal he could not get his large hand and arm very far. Knowing one of the lambs was coming the wrong way and needed to be repositioned, George called on his wife to assist. Her arms were slender and fingers long -- perfect for the job.
She had limited experience with their own sheep and goats, but was more than ready to step up to the job. As George coached her, she soon turned the lamb properly, and with George's help delivered a beautiful baby lamb. A roar of applause went up from the group that had gathered, as George's wife gleamed with joyful accomplishment. The Rev. Bishop offered his thanks, too, as George and his wife, along with their kids cleaned up and readied to return home.
Just before leaving, George's wife peered back at the scene as the little lamb was getting to his little clumsy feet and his first meal. She had a humble and somber feeling come over her..
"George, I'm sorry I got mad back at the house," she said. "Will you take me on a few more calls in the future? I kind of like being your assistant."
"Sure honey, no problem," George replied. "I knew you would want to go and we could never have helped the ewe out without your help. My hands and arms are okay for cows and horses, but ewes I was never made for. This truly has been a special Christmas so far, eh?"
She nodded her head in agreement as she couldn't help but notice the smile on the baby's face who laid quietly taking in the scene.
"Look, Dad. There's a star up there that is so bright. Where did that come from? I've never seen it before. Dad..."
George and his wife could only smile at each other fondly as they called it a day and headed home.