Yum Yum, the Christmas Monkey
In a far place in the old country is a magical place where loving families can still find enchantment. The best thing about this unusual turreted motel is the Petting Zoo.
At this time of the year, the month before Christmas, you will find the animals at the bottom of the garden where they huddle together under the faerie lights. And down there snuggled in Kanga’s pouch is an itsy, bitty, little monkey who happens to be the hero of this story.
When Yum Yum’s mother was taken to the BIG ZOO and never ever heard of, or even seen again, it was Kanga, the kangaroo who found the shivering little monkey. Demonstrating the spirit of the season she hugged him and stroked him and caressed him. “Oh my!” she said, “you are so very, very sweet and I think I may have fallen in love!” Then she stuck the bitsy thing safely into her pouch, carefully leaving his little head out, so he could breathe.
The Christmas Monkey
That was when a big steel bird flew across the sky creating a cacophony. The little monkey dived deep down under and he was not seen again. But even little monkeys get hungry and after three long days he wiggled up and tentatively ventured his head out again saw Bray and dived down again. This was when Kanga knew she had to do something or she would lose the best Christmas present she had ever been blessed with.
Bray, her donkey friend, had frightened the monkey so she couldn’t go to him. She thought of Elevated the Giraffe whose vision and loftier perspective she valued but he, too, didn’t seem right. Then she thought of Babuum. Yes she would take the monkey to Babuum. After all Babuum, the singing gorilla, was from the same species, or wasn’t he? It was lucky Babuum was visiting in the zoo while waiting for his concertina to be repaired. Normally he sang and danced at the train station.
“We have to do something,” said Kanga. “This little monkey will die if he stays here at the bottom of my pouch. I am not even sure that he can breathe.”
“I think this calls for a special meeting” said Babuum in a ponderous voice.
“Oh braai!!” echoed Bray, the donkey in dismay.
Babuum asked “Singing Wind” to summon the animals. It was a good choice for the bird did loops in an out of the Christmas decorations, and popped a light here and there, and in this way was able to gain the attention of the animals. When they all looked up in wonder charmed by the colored lights reflecting in his dark feathers the bird sat on a branch and explained why Babuum wanted their help. They all began slowly making their way to the clearing at the bottom of the garden.
Even the domestic animals from the big house came on down. Mackie, the mongrel who was often found fluttering around the legs of Elevated whom he loved to tease, left the big house and bounced on down. Bella, the sleek and sensuous Siamese cat came mincing down the path, followed by her three little pom, pom kittens.
The two magical elves “Hit” and “Miss” were there. They were the most insouciant, and the most mischievous of all the faerie folk, never evil but definitely naughty. They were able to do powerful magic, but their magic lasted only while they were being good. One misstep, one bad deed and the magic would dissipate like smoke from a genie’s lamp.
“Hit” and “Miss” were hanging out in the trees amidst the fairy lights, keeping tabs so they could report back to the faerie kingdom.
The rooster and the hens, the pig and the piglets, all were there. The three sheep were going bla, bla bla. Only Billy the Goat was missing, He had staid up at the top of the garden scrounging up whatever food he could, glad not to be held accountable.
Sneak the snake had slithered on down, not that you would know. Like the mischievous elves he was there and then not there.
Babuum was wearing his top hat to give a greater importance to this meeting. He began the meeting with an off key version of an old fashioned Christmas carol.
“Christmas is a coming, the egg is in the nog.
Please give a friendly donkey, a friendly little dog.
We don’t have a reindeer so a monkey will have to do,
We all come down to the bottom to help a saintly kangaroo.”
He took off his top hat and bowed first to Kanga and then to his congregation.
“Listen up!” he said solemnly. “We have a new animal joining us at the petting zoo. And that is always good! But he is very little and has been taken from his mother, Kanga has been looking after him.” For just a brief moment, Yum Yum’s tiny little face peeked out again from her pouch and then dived again down under, “and there he is.”
“I saw him!” said a duck.
“We have to decide what we are going to do,” said Babuum simply.
Bray proposed that Kanga should continue to care for the monkey. He said it was a good thing she had done. She loved him. You could see it in her eyes.
“I think Kanga did a wonderful thing to find and care for the little monkey but I do not agree that she should keep him,” said Elevated slowly.
Babuum said, “You surprise me Elevated; you are good friends with the kangaroo. You must know she is the kindest animal in the zoo?”
“That she is,” said Elevated from his lofty giraffe height. “but I have one thing to ask you, to ask you all , how is she going to feed an itsy, tiny little bit of a monkey?”
There were long faces all around. The hens clucked and the sheep bleated.
“How does one feed an itsy bitty monkey?” asked Babuum, echoed by Kanga,
That was when a surprising thing happened. Bella the Siamese cat glided forward into the clearing.
“Meow, excuse me” she said hesitantly. While to all the other animals she had always seemed haughty, the truth was this elegant cat was actually shy. She was also kind. “I will take him to the beeeg house and raise him with my keeettens,” she said.
“But he is safe and happy with the kangaroo”
“Kanga can come often. The minkey can come to the garden in the day. At the beeg house the dear little thing will get the meellk.”
“We are going to need some human help if he is to survive.” agreed Babuum slowly.
“Comment? What you all theeenk?”
“I love him already and will be sorry to see him go,” said Kanga but I know he will not survive without your help. Thank you Bella, he is very, very little.”
So it was decided.
So this is the story of how Yum Yum survived happily with two families, one at the big house and one down in the garden with the animals who had found and helped him.
It was also where he got his name, spoiled rotten where all the visiting children fought to feed him and had called him “Yum Yum.”
It was where he would cuddle quietly at night with the kittens and in the day he would ride around happily with Kanga.
Sadly it is also where he got his big obsession. More than anything in the little petting zoo, more than the big house itself, more than THE BIG ZOO which had swallowed up his mother, more than the big steel birds that fly across the sky and frighten him, more than the whole big wide world where Babuum had gone away again to perform, there was one thing he wanted more than anything.
He wanted to be able to purr.
Yum Yum wanted to purr.
Babuum returned to the petting zoo the day before Christmas and called another meeting where the little monkey who had now stolen every heart, was introduced to the magical elves “Hit and Miss”
“Will you grant him a Christmas wish?” asked Babuum
“Grant him a Christmas wish,” chanted the animals.
After trying to wriggle out of the situation, finally the elves agreed. They really had no choice for Babuum had threatened to call out the Faerie Queen.
Christmas morning arrived crisp and clear, a light chill in the air but no wind, and no snow. It was the perfect day for Bella and her kittens to snuggle up on the comforter in the family room near the fireplace. They were all so happy they were purring away.
Yes, and with them snuggled up, was Yum Yum and he too was purring loudly. He was purring the loudest of all.
Then “Hit” tied Snakes head to his tail and “Miss” strung the circular snake up in the middle of the Christmas lights and they laughed and laughed and laughed.
The animals nearly had a feast of sizzling snake for their Christmas dinner. When Yum Yum woke up he had stopped purring.
Yet he never forgot the absolute joy of that magical Christmas morning.