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This is the story the robins tell as they huddle beneath the holly on the Eve of Christmas. They have told it every Christmas Eve since the world started. They commenced telling it long before Christ was born, for their memory goes further back than men's. The Christmas which they celebrate began just outside of Eden, within sight of its gold-locked doors.
The robins have only two stories: one for Christmas and one for Easter. Their Easter story is quite different. It has to do with how they got the splash of red upon their breasts. It was when God's son was hanging on the cross. They wanted to do something to spare him. They were too weak to pull out the nails from his feet and hands; so they tore their little breasts in plucking the thorns one by one from the crown that had been set upon his forehead. Since then God has allowed their breasts to remain red as a remembrance of His gratitude.
But their Christmas story happened long before, when they weren't robin red-breasts but only robins. It is a merry, tender sort of story. They twitter it in a chuckling fashion to their children. If you prefer to hear it first-hand, creep out to the nearest holly-bush on almost any Christmas Eve when snow has made the night all pale and shadowy. If the robins have chosen your holly-bush as their rendezvous and you understand their language, you won't need to read what I have written. Like all true stories, it is much better told than read. It's the story of the first laugh that was ever heard in earth or heaven. To be enjoyed properly it needs the chuckling twitter of the grown-up robins and the squeaky interruptions of the baby birds asking questions. When they get terrifically excited, they jig up and down on the holly-branches and the frozen snow falls with a brittle clatter. Then the mother and father birds say, "Hush!" quite suddenly. No one speaks for a full five seconds. They huddle closer, listening and holding their breath. That's how the story ought to be heard, after night-fall on Christmas Eve, when behind darkened windows little boys and girls have gone to bed early, having hung up their very biggest stockings. Of course I can't tell it that way on paper, but I'll do my best to repeat the precise words in which the robins tell it.