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On a cold, quiet night speckled white by the snow,

As the moon became bright and the sun slipped below

The horizon and inky blue darkened the skies,

Ella yawned softly and opened her eyes.


Happy but hungry, she thought it’d be right

To find something tasty to start off her night.

So, Ella set out through the snow and the sleet

To get herself something delicious to eat.


Beneath a big fruit tree she very soon sat.

She was munching away when she spotted a cat!

She waved at the cat and invited him over

To join her.  And so, the slick, striped nighttime rover

Crept through the snow, treading oh so softly,

Over to Ella beneath the fruit tree.


“Hello!” said Ella, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Hi!” said the cat, “It’s good to meet you, too.”

They talked for a while as they watched the snow

Drift down gently to Earth.  Then, the cat had to go.


“Before I take off – sorry if it’s bizarre,”

Said the cat, “I was wondering just what you are.

Usually cats alone are the creatures I see

Awake in the night, but you don’t look like me.”


Ella stared, mouth agape, at the cat in the snow.

What was she?  Ella realized she didn’t know.

She had never considered her species because

She had always been Ella; that’s just who she was.


But, suddenly, now Ella wished it were clear

What creature she was and just why she was here.

Ella turned to her new friend.  “So, you are a cat.

May I ask how exactly you came to know that?”


“Well,” the cat explained, “I just looked around

At the world and myself, and I very soon found

That based on what I do – how I leap, mew, and spit –

I just must be a cat.  That is just where I fit.”


“Thank you!” she shouted, and off Ella went,

Giddy and most certain that if she spent

The rest of the night looking upwards and down

And backwards and sideways and all over town,

Thinking and learning, pursuing her cause,

She would very soon know just what creature she was!


“I know I’m not a cat.  That’s one thing I’ve got right,”

Ella thought to herself, “But I am up at night.

So, here is the plan: I think I’ve got to scout

Some non-feline creature who’s out and about.”


And no sooner were Ella’s clever words said

Than a giant, dark shape flew right over her head!

“Hello!” Ella called, “May I please speak with you?”

The shape came to Earth, and then it answered, “Who?”


“You!” Ella cried, “Could you please talk to me?”

“Well,” said the shape, “I suppose I could be

Persuaded to take a quick break and concede

Just a bit of my time.  What is it that you need?”


“To know what you are and why so I can see

Whether you are a thing that’s the same thing as me!”

Ella tried to explain, fearing she’d gone afoul

With her words, but the shape answered, “I am an owl.”


“Wonderful!” Ella said, “So… Do you think

That I am an owl?”  And then, without a blink,

He answered, “You?!  You’re not an owl at all!

Owls are big!  You are far, far too small.”


“Okay,” said Ella, “Thank you, and goodnight!”

She watched as the owl resumed his great flight.

Then Ella took off, still in search of new leads,

And not too far away, she heard sounds in the weeds.


So, she stopped for a bit to examine the grass,

And through the blades she saw a furry, gray mass.

“Hello?” Ella called out, “Is somebody there?”

A small, bright pair of eyes met her quizzical stare.


“Hello,” a voice squeaked, “Who and what are you?”

“I’m Ella,” said Ella, “And I wish I knew.

I truly do not mean to bother you, ma’am,

But I’m trying to find out what it is I am.

I’ve been looking for answers all night, near and far,

And I’m wondering: Am I whatever you are?”


“Well,” the voice answered, “From what I can see,

I don’t think that you are a field mouse like me.

I’ve looked you over, and what I have found

Is that your ears are pointy, and my ears are round.”


“Thank you,” sighed Ella, a little let down.

“Maybe you’ll find answers somewhere in town!”

Squeaked the mouse.  “Oh!  What a wonderful thought!”

Ella cried, “Thank you!  Yes!  That helps a lot!”


So, the little mouse scurried off back underground,

And Ella set out to adventure around

The neighboring houses and shops and town square,

Certain that she would find her answers there.


As Ella approached, she was met by the sight

Of the entire town glowing stunningly bright,

Full of colorful trees and sweet window displays

Set up to celebrate the holidays.


As on her grand journey she wandered on by,

One of these windows caught Ella’s sharp eye.

She spied in that window a small, friendly creature

Bearing a fantastic, familiar feature!


He had large, pointy ears!  And it seemed that he crept

Around doing his work while two small children slept.

As she stared at this creature who seemed like a clue,

Ella thought back to holiday tales she knew.


As she peered through the glass at the holiday scene,

She could not help but think about what it might mean.

And then, at last, she had it!  She said to herself

With a grin on her face, “Why, I must be an ELF!

Elves are awake at night, and they are pretty small,

And they have pointy ears!  And I check off all

Of the things on that list – ounce for ounce, gram for gram!

Elves are exactly the same as I am!”


Then it dawned on young Ella that now that she knew

Just what creature she was, she had a job to do!

“Elves help drop off presents!  Hey, I’d better see

If I can find a house with a nice, big chimney!”


And so, Ella did.  And then, without a pause,

She shimmied on down to help out Santa Claus.

As she prepared the house – trimmed the tree, swept the mat –

Someone crept down the stairs.  And then…  “Oh no! A BAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


“A bat!?” Ella thought.  Then, from thin air, a broom

Came crashing and shooing her out of the room!

“Look at its sharp fangs and its horrible wings!”

The broom-swinger cried, screaming terrible things.


Ella escaped the house just as fast as she could!

She flew out of the town and then over the wood

And off into the night, and as she climbed the sky,

Ella the bat, I guess, started to cry.


She flew fast, though she couldn’t see through her tears.

Then Ella crashed!  A loud sound filled her ears…

“Ho, ho!” A voice boomed, “Why, is that my new elf?”

Ella flapped, shocked, as she saw for herself

A jolly old man in a suit warm and red

Whom most have seen just with the eyes in their head.


“Santa?” She whispered, “But… I’m just a bat.

Not an elf – nor a mouse nor an owl nor a cat.

I’m not sleek or majestic or dainty or merry;

I’m ugly and creepy and bizarre and scary.

I wish I could help you,” she said with a sob,

“But I’m afraid I wasn’t made for the job.”


“Nonsense!” the man laughed, “It’s not silly things

Like your ears or your size or your fangs or your wings

That tell me that you are or are not an elf.

What matters is something inside of yourself.

When it comes to elf-dom, the one special part

That makes someone an elf is the size of their heart.

You have pointy ears, and you’re up late and small,

But your helpfulness makes you the best elf of all.”


“So, am I an elf, then?  Or am I a bat?”

Ella asked as she fluttered near Santa’s red hat.

“You are both!” Santa said, “Why, you don’t have to choose!

You’re an elf, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose

All the great things about being a bat!

You are both, and there’s nothing as awesome as that!”


Ella just smiled, eyes bright, not because

She finally knew just what creature she was

But because she had realized something else, too:

What made her herself had not one thing to do

With her looks or her species or what people thought

Of her based on appearance.  What mattered a lot

Was the way that she spoke, how she chose to behave,

All the love that she shared, and the help that she gave.


Yes, she was a bat, and yes, she was an elf.

But what mattered the most was that she was herself.


  • Mom
    December 1, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    What a beautiful story! I LOVE IT!!!

  • Aunt Carmin
    December 1, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    Wonderful story, Sarah. Always be yourself. Merry Christmas.

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