Here in Wowtown it’s a tradition this time of year to gather round the fire and recall the story of young Jimmy the Spider and his icicle climb. I hope you enjoy it.
A SPIDER’S CHRISTMAS
‘Twas the day before Christmas and school was let out early! It was that special day of the year when the children of the Huxley family of spiders rush to the Crickshaw Bridge, off the northeast end of Wowbegon Lake, to play their forbidden annual game of icicle climbing.
To prepare for the game, first a large patchwork quilt of web was spun together by all the participants. It was then stretched horizontally above the frozen river underneath the icicles hanging from the edge of the bridge, forming a large trampoline. Then the spiders would take turns leaping from the bridge, bouncing off the trampoline and attempting to grab hold of and cling to an icicle. If this was managed, the spider would then attempt to climb the slippery icicle back to the bridge. At the end of the day the spider with the greatest number of climbs would be crowned Ice King, or Ice Queen, and all must bow before him or her. A well aimed, powerful bounce is required, and most spiders are unable to reach, let alone grab on to an icicle.
Jimmy was a little smaller and tended to be a bit more clumsy than the other spider babies, his feet were not as sticky and his attempts to discharge proper web silk were usually embarrassingly unsuccessful (it shot out like a spiraling mass of silly string). He was a figure of ridicule for his siblings, nevertheless it seemed that this was his day to turn things around, as on his very first attempt he not only bounced high enough to reach an icicle, he was also able to grab on and HOLD! Throngs of tiny spiders gasped in awe around him. He could hardly believe it himself as he clenched his multi-faceted eyes shut, took a deep breath and told himself “Now, now Jimmy, don’t let your excitement foul this up. Hold on tight!”
He knew he still had to make the climb, and that the most devastating thing that could happen would be to slip off now, after having come so close to victory. So he held on tight while he regained his composure.
This turned out to be a grave mistake, for he held too long, and when he tried to move the first of his eight tiny legs he found it to be frozen to the ice! He grunted, groaned and strained. He tried each other leg, one at a time, but each was unfortunately very much as stuck. The other spiders began to snicker and giggle and nod their heads back and forth, then went back to the game around him for the rest of the day.
As it got colder and evening set in he realized he’d probably be stuck there all night. He would have to wait until morning and hope the warmth of a new day would be enough to thaw him free.
Gradually his siblings filed off into the night, with an occasional “Merry Christmas Jimmy!” thrown at him spitefully. And through his cold multi-faceted eyes he saw a multitude of warm things: distant webs of Christmas lights began to go on in the nearby town, candles burned in the window hole of a nearby squirrel family tree. And then there was smoke coming up from Al the Groundhog’s hole, probably from a lovely fireplace that made him think of the nice fireplace that must be burning below at his own family’s home back in the rafters of the Tailspin Tavern. There they would be stringing eight tiny stockings for each brother and sister from the big family web, and they’d all be excitedly preparing for the arrival of Big Santa Spider later tonight, with his eight bags of treats, flying through the night in his sleigh pulled by eight tiny flies stuck to webbed reigns.
Yes he had plenty of time to think up there on that icicle, little Jimmy did. He shuddered with thoughts about creatures that might swoop in on him in the darkness and how he was pretty much a sitting duck up there. But maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad way to go, because what really scared him were thoughts about the anticipated wrath of his father, Daddy Long Legs Huxley, whom it should be said ruled with nothing less than an iron spider fist. Once he had even violently ripped the front two legs off Jimmy’s brother Aldous when he was caught examining an ‘adult’ site on the Big World Web, leaving him to lead the shameful life of a veritable six legged insect!
Snow began to fall and tiny multiple tears began to drip and freeze into tiny icicles from all of Jimmy’s eyes. Exhausted, he finally passed out.
In the morning the sun did indeed shine down on a sparkling, crackling crystal landscape and Jimmy melted free and dropped with a soft bounce on the web trampoline below. There couldn’t have been another being in all of Wowtown happier about it being a sunny Christmas, but he was still very frightened about facing Daddy Long Legs who would certainly be waiting to deliver a severe punishment. His fears were unfounded, however. For due to a long standing family tradition of which Jimmy was too young to be aware, Mommy had eaten Daddy during the night.
Happy Holidays from all of Wowtown!