It was the week before Christmas and the family gathered at the home of my Aunt Lucille to exchange Christmas gifts. The rooms of the house were arranged so that you entered the front door into the Living Room which led into the Dining Room, and through a doorway lead to the Kitchen. A hall ran the length of the house so that those rooms were to the right of the hall, and all Bed Rooms and Baths were located to the left of the hall.
The tall Christmas Tree was beautifully decorated and was placed to the right of the entrance into the Living Room from the front porch. My Aunt Lucille had a penchant for the unusual which led her to purchase a small monkey as a Christmas gift for her son. The monkey was unbelievably small being no more than six inches tall. He was the center of attention as the family arrived and began to be excited by all of the noise and commotion of arriving guests. In his excited state he began to scamper through the house across the Living Room, on into the Dining Room and Kitchen, taking a turn now down the hall which brought him back to his starting point in the Living Room, where upon he would repeat his circuitous track again and again. He continued this wild race through the house moving so quickly that we were unable to catch him. He needed to be in his cage but the little rascal bolted like a flash of lightening and could not be subdued.
It was at this point in the commotion that my Aunt Lillian and her husband, Uncle Tilman arrived coming through the front door just as the monkey leapt up into the Christmas Tree. At this time, neither of them had seen the monkey. As Aunt Lillian walked past the tree the monkey lunged toward her landing in her hands. Having just arrived into the house she was startled, to say the least, and was not quite sure what it was that she was holding in her hands when the monkey in its excitement bit her finger, then dashed forward commencing his mad dash again and again being cheered on by the children. She let out a blood curdling scream which frightened the monkey spurring him on to move ever so much faster, and now some of the other older aunts were becoming
agitated and were chiming in with their own screams while uttering words of displeasure over the wild monkey incident.
Now Aunt Lillian was known to be the most extreme of hypochondriacs in the family and it was well known by everyone that she enjoyed poor health and beamed when anyone paid attention to her exaggerated tales about her health. So at this point of having been bitten by the monkey, we took turns going by and examining her finger to which would be added the need to have a doctor examine her finger just in case the monkey did carry some rare jungle disease. One by one, we all went by and with great respect told her all the horrible things we could imagine that could occur from being bitten by a creature like this big six inch tall monkey.
Gifts have been exchanged, opened and paper and ribbon clutters the floor. The excitement of the monkey incident is now passed and multiple conversations are going on, when suddenly there is a lull in the conversation and no one is uttering a word, then we hear from the hall my aunt saying into the phone, “Hello Lourdes, this is Mrs. Chatelain honey, there was this monkey in the Christmas tree,” and at that point my Uncle Tilman yells out, “Damn you Lillian, half the town thinks you’re crazy already, now they’ll know for sure, HANG UP THE DAMN PHONE!!! And she did, so in our family while other families tell the story of"T’was The Night Before Christmas," we tell the story about “The Night There Was a Monkey in the Christmas Tree,” and remember an old eccentric old Aunt who we loved dearly and wish she was still here to share her life with us.