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Ed Said - Every donkey has his day

That season again……

When we think of little else but ourselves.

Putting aside the financial trauma we inflict on ourselves in embracing Christmas, the unnecessary stress we put ourselves through in preparation and the blatant over-indulgence of food and drink, do we give much credence to anything but ourselves?

I’m referring to our animals and pets. Regularly on social media we see cats and dogs bedecked in tinsel and wearing a Santa hat and apart from that I guess the cat gets an extra spoon of jellymeat or handful of Go-Cats, the dog gets the leftovers from the spit roast and the pony might get an extra dipper of sweetfeed but that’s about it.

While those animals mentioned serve man well and in a variety of beneficial ways through either entertainment, companionship or essential services, there is one animal important to the Christmas story which rarely gets a second thought.

The horse, for example, runs fast, jumps high and is preened and beloved by our Queen, and even Kings and Queens the world over, through history. But does his poor cousin the donkey ever get one hint of consideration at Christmas? He should. Unlike the horse the donkey seems happy to maintain a greyish mousey coat unlike his splendid cousin.

God made the world in six days. He could not have done so without having bits left over – you know, like flat-pack furniture. I tend to think, in the interests of not wanting to waste anything, he then proceeded to make the donkey. Not many bits so he’s generally not very big. Short legs but only very small feet. Flimsy mane and the tail – remember the Christmas story narrated by Bing Crosby many years ago? “Is it a tail? It looks like the stub of a broom, worn out from sweeping the courtyard”

That voice too. Not a nicker or whinney that comes from a friendly pony. The rasping Hee-Haw of the donkey, despite all the digital remastering in the world, could never sound melodic. Finally the ears, often too long to be easily controlled. Well, I did say he was made from leftovers, but there is another side to the donkey.

He is stubborn yet steady. Despite slavery being outlawed he is used to this day as a beast of burden carrying tremendous packs, for good and evil, over some treacherous terrain and mountain passes almost to the top of the world and he does so without one sniff of complaint. But remember that old saying ‘every dog has his day.’

We are all apparently allowed our fifteen minutes of fame though more for some. Euphoria can be short but can also very sweet. If believers stop for a moment to think about it, the ‘day’ of the humble donkey by far usurps that of any other animal.

The noble donkey’s claim to fame is never better told than by poet G K Chesterton. I’ll let you read it yourself, ponder a little and then realise its part in the Christmas story and why such an unassuming beast will remain in the annals of history for all time with a notoriety far and away ahead of any other, and it’s part in the’ reason for the season’.
The Donkey by G. K. CHESTERTON

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

This tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There were shouts about my ears,
And palms about my feet.
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