The Gift of the Roasters
Freedom Prepper Headquarters and Coffee Roastery, Christmas Eve…
The temperature, more snow, and general darkness all fell together. A small group of happy children, bundled against the cold, jostled and laughed as they frolicked down the sidewalk past one house after another, all decorated for the joys of Christmas. Together, the youngsters paused and sniffed the delicious aroma emanating from one quaint little structure, the heavenly scent of Columbian beans meeting drying, darkening fire. Just after the merry gang ambled by, a truck departed from 1776 Freedom Lane, from whence wafted the wonderful whiffs. A golden light streamed onto a field of white from out the open front door of a cozy cottage, the most archetypal of the Zakopane-gingerbread-style to be found anywhere in the great, nebulous American Midwest. And had the small figures away on the sidewalk looked closer, they might have seen the even smaller figures now waving goodbye to another shipment. A pair of little hands gently closed the charming rounded wooden door.
‘Ah, beans for the people!’ sang a happy if squeaky little voice. ‘And that was the last shipment before Christmas!’
‘Party time?’ queried another chirpy petite voice from the short front hall. ‘I know where the cookies are!’
‘Wait!’ boomed a louder larger voice from deeper in the little house. A comparatively-huge, jolly man with a beard ran into the foyer. He questioned the tiny lad at the door: ‘The last shipment?! Did he leave anything behind, Preppa?’
‘No, I’m afraid not. Just a pickup. Beans for our besties, boss!’ the squeaky voice replied.
‘And, Scott,’ said the second little chirpy voice, ‘he’s Preppi.’
Scott stared at the little elf for a moment of awkwardness tinged with vague regret. ‘Which one are you?’ he asked.
‘I’m Preppo, boss,’ the elf replied.
‘Well, where’s Preppa?’ Scott asked in confusion. ‘And did he get any deliveries today?’
‘No, boss,’ said the elf. ‘And, Preppa is with Perrin in the workshop working on the special project.’
‘No delivery, right!’ Scott exclaimed before rushing back to his office.
‘Why can’t they tell us apart?’ Preppo asked Preppi.
‘No idea,’ said Preppi with a shrug. ‘For what it’s worth, I hear the Keebler execs can’t either.’
Not long thereafter, somewhere in the rear of the cottage, two young ladies walked into Scott’s office, empty mugs in their hands. Scott, hurriedly looked at invoices and logs, pretending not to notice.
‘Scott, stop working already,’ said Jovana.
‘Yeah, the coffee’s all shipped out,’ Joyce added. ‘It’s time for our party.’
‘It’s Christmas Eve!’ they both said together.
‘And, I made cookies!’ Preppi squeakily called from the kitchen.
‘The party, yes!’ Scott said, mild hesitation in his voice. ‘Let’s all assemble in the bug-in bunker. I’ll be there in a second.’
Momentarily, the two women joined Preppi and Preppo by the roaring fireplace. The bug-in bunker, it turned out, was merely the staff nickname for the informal den, the site of this year’s party. They were soon joined by Scott, who was moving uncharacteristically slow. Something troubled his mind.
‘Okay, gang, I’ll get right to this,’ he said somewhat sadly. ‘I’m afraid that we have run into a—’
His speech, whatever the message, was temporarily cut short. All present jumped as the whole house shook and a resounded *BOOM* echoed from the vicinity of the workshop. They all stood stunned for a few seconds. Dust fell from the ceiling fan. A door slammed somewhere. Scott was just about to speak again when a very disheveled Perrin barged in. His face was blackened and his hair was singed.
‘You two,’ he said, pointing to the elves, ‘get a ladder. Preppa’s stuck up in the rafters.’ As the two squeaked and chirped away to the rescue, Perrin spoke ruefully to Scott: ‘Freedom Blasters High Explosives is gonna have to wait for a little while – maybe next Christmas. Can’t quite stabilize the RDX in the—’
‘SHHHHHHHH!’ Scott shushed. ‘Secret project is secret!’
‘Is that safe?!’ Joyce asked.
‘Mehumph?’ Perrin mumbled with a shrug.
‘Is it legal?’ Jovana inquired.
‘Legal as that last election,’ Perrin sighed.
Just then, all three Prepper Elves appeared, Preppa bearing a frazzled, sooty resemblance to Perrin. ‘He’s okay, but he needs coffee!’ Preppo chirped. ‘We all do.’
‘Let’s start the party!’ Jovana said excitedly. ‘Where is our coffee?’
Scott sank down on the sofa dejectedly. Noticing that he had sat on poor Preppa, he kindly moved over a seat. Then he said, most sadly, ‘That’s what – sorry Preppo, Prepp-uh, er, you – that’s what I wanted to tell you guys. There is no coffee for us.’
The whole crowd gathered closely together. Joyce and Preppi stifled tears. Perrin muttered something about powdered aluminum. Jovana cleared her throat. Scott continued: ‘It’s like this. All season, we worked hard to roast up the very best coffee for all the good prepper boys and girls. And we did! That last truck was the final testament to our dedication. It was our gift to them. They all, preppers from near and far, responded with kind gifts of their own.’
And, the preppers had indeed answered, sending the most appropriate gifts to the FP team. Even then, especially at that moment, each member glanced at the wonderful mugs they held. One by one, they realized how empty those vessels were. Scott continued: ‘So, yeah, we shipped all of the coffee away, leaving none for ourselves. I ordered another bag of beans, but it just didn’t make it in time. I’m sorry.’
The various long, somber faces were suddenly rallied by happy laughter, from Preppa of all people – or elves. ‘There’s nothing to be sorry about!’ he peeped. ‘Coffee isn’t what Christmas is about anyway. Tomorrow is the celebration of God’s great gift to the world – Jesus! Do I have to do the Linus routine from Charlie Brown or something? No, no I don’t. We have salvation! That’s plenty and enough. But, hey! What’s more, we also have each other, our health, these yummy cookies, and we can always make do with tap water tonight. So, gang, let’s say a little prayer of thanks, and party on!’
And, that is just what they did. However, immediately after they said, “Amen,” there came a thumping sound up on the rooftop, followed by a shout and a cry from high in the chimney. Next, there was the sound of something heavy landing in the snowdrift outside, and then, of a rapping at the window by the hearth. And, when Joyce opened it, in popped the head of … Santa Claus!
‘Ho! Ho! Ouch!’ he called in. ‘That’s quite the fire y’all have going. But, anyway, Merry Christmas! I have a little present for you.’ He proceeded to pass through the window, to the waiting, trembling hands of Jovana, a large bag of coffee! ‘Roasted dark, ground, and ready to brew!’ he sang out, kindly. ‘Preppo, your cousin, Bert, who works for me, warned that there might have been some ironic mixup tonight. So, here I am!’
‘I’m Preppi,’ said the little elf; ‘my cousin who works for you is—’
‘Whatever!’ Santa said. ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to kick the tires and light the fires!’ And away he flew, and as he drove out of sight … you know all that.
Back in the bug-in bunker, Scott soon presided over the pouring of the Christmas Eve coffee. ‘Here’s to Christmas, everyone! A special thank you to our friends at the North Pole.’
‘Hey,’ Jovana said to Joyce, ‘if this is some Gift of the Magi-themed incident and story, then are all the good preppers, wherever they might be, out of coffee mugs?!’
‘No,’ Joyce answered, ‘what kind of preppers wouldn’t have backup coffee cups? That’s just silly.’
And it would be a silly notion, no? Just as silly as this little tale you’ve kindly rummaged through, to this, the ending. And, all of us at Freedom Prepper, the elves included, thank you. Now, you go right ahead and have yourselves the merriest of Christmases. And to All, a good night!