The Christmas Story for 2017-“The Last Straw”

Dear Reader:

I came to the conclusion many years ago…that I don’t choose the Christmas Eve story…the story chooses me. This is definitely true this year of all years. I had one story selected since last Christmas for this Christmas but (again) in cleaning out my “library” I found this book and knew it fit my present situation perfectly …and, I suspect, probably many of your similiar situations too.

Anne found the book in a garage sale probably around eight years ago…or close to that. I remember telling it to the children at the Children’s Christmas Eve service that first year…but it has been just sitting on the shelf since then.

You already know that I went through a series of “black cloudy” days before Thanksgiving where everything in my house and car seemed to break down at once. (new commode, oven, car repairs, etc.)

The expression “It is the last straw that break’s the camel’s back” describes a seemingly routine action that goes on to cause an unpredictably large and sudden reaction…the culmination of all the earlier smaller problems. Today we refer to this frustrating situation as “the last straw.”

So as I pulled this book off the shelf several weeks ago…I had to laugh. Perfect! (Me and Hoshmakaka, the camel, have been in the same boat with bad luck. This would be the story, the lesson, the message needed for this Christmas Eve. A reminder I, certainly, needed to hear again.)

Adaptation of the story “The Last Straw” by Fredrick Thurry

Once upon a time there was a camel named Hoshmakaka. One night he was asleep in the desert  dreaming about all the water in the world and how he, alone, would be able to hold it in his hump. Suddenly he heard voices… seemingly coming from the rolling sands…calling his name. 

Now Hoshmakaka was getting on up in age and was pretty grumpy most days and nights…especially about being awakened from his most deserved rest. Quite irritated, he slowly opened one eye and yawned…he didn’t see anyone but now he heard the voices again. 

“You are the chosen one. You will carry gifts to a baby king. You will carry frankincense, myrrh, and gold. The wise men have chosen you.”

“Me?” said Hoshmakaka in a puzzled voice. “If these men are so wise…then surely they must know about my joints? My gout? And don’t even get me started talking about my sciatica.”

Hoshmakaka then continued ” Even if I wasn’t down in the back…I can’t go anywhere now…I have plans. There is the water drinking contest next week in Beemish and the cud-chewing convention is just around the corner… coming up soon”…

The winds blew furiously turning the night into  blacky ink…It looked like strange creatures were moving under the sand. Suddenly Hoshmakaka was afraid.

“Okay, okay…I reckon I can carry three little bottles of perfumes…when do I start?Todayreplied the voices and as Hoshmakaka now opened both eyes he saw it was already morning. 

The servants of the wise men appeared and placed the precious gifts on his back. All the young camels looked up at Hoshmakaka with eyes filled in admiration. “You are the chosen one…WOW…You must be very special.”

“Well, of course I am…and I am not old…why I am still as strong as ten horses.”

The young camels began to beg to follow along and Hoshmakaka finally agreed if they would keep several paces behind him. Regal distance.

Everything went fine until about noon on the first day. A herd of mountain goats appeared with milk for the baby-king in large heavy bags. Just when Hoshmakaka was about to complain of his joints, gout, and sciatica the little camels piped up and said proudly, “Hoshmakaka can carry all these bags…why he is as strong as ten horses!”

Hoshmakaka groaned inwardly but there was nothing he could do but get back on his feet and keep going. Next came the millers with bags of ground corn…then beautiful young ladies with fine silks that (thank goodness) weren’t heavy at all, then appeared an old man with a rare bird in a heavy silver cage and finally bakers with their finest sweetmeats and pastries. All for the baby-king.

As the sun began to set that first night Hoshmakaka sank thankfully into the sand…it felt good not to have to pretend to be as strong as ten horses…he had never felt so exhausted in his entire life. Before he fell asleep he did notice that the night didn’t seem as dark as usual. There was a mysterious star, as bright as day, shining down in the desert. ‘How strange?’ thought the camel but he was too tired to do anything but fall asleep.

The next day brought new pains and aches as more and more people showed up with gifts for the baby-king. As the afternoon wore on…Hosmakaka thought to himself that he didn’t think he could make it…his legs were getting weaker, his gout, sciatica, and joints were killing him…the load was just too heavy!

He couldn’t do it…he had to swallow his pride and let everyone know he was finished when the youngest camel cried out “YOU DID IT! There is Bethlehem. You are as strong as ten horses Hoshmakaka!”

Hoshmakaka took a deep breath and thought to himself that he just might could pull this off if he did not stop his pace until he arrived at the spot beneath the star.

BUT JUST THEN…a small voice rang out in the darkness. “I have a gift for the baby king.”

It was a tiny child…but Hoshmakaka was too tired and he couldn’t stop…”Please child no more gifts.”

“It has no weight, it’s long and light.” said the child.

“Too little is too much right now” Hosmakaka barely whispered.

“But aren’t you as strong as ten horses?” asked the child meekly.

“This piece of straw is just for the baby’s bed…it’s all I have.”

“Child…quickly…do it now before I reach the stable and approach the new king…put it on my back.”

Immediately as Hoshmakaka entered the stable his back began to slip, his knees began to loosen, his legs began to wobble…his back was breaking….would this last piece of straw be his downfall?

He fell on his knees and was completely humiliated thinking the young camels would know what happened and tell everyone of his failure.

He hung his head as large tears began to drop from his eyes.

IT WAS THE WISE MEN who took notice of Hoshmakaka’s action and quickly they, too, knelt. (Hoshmakaka thought they were mocking him and he hung his head lower…so low it rested on the side of the crib.)

That is when it happened…a tiny hand reached up and grabbed the piece of straw off his back and then patted his face. Suddenly the whole weight of the world seemed lifted from him. His pain disappeared and his burdens were no longer felt.


From that time on there was no burden, great or small, that Hoshmakaka would not gladly carry…because he now knew the secret of Christmas. It would be the tiny Christ-child who would one day carry all mankind’s burdens on His shoulders leaving us with the most precious gift of all…  the promise of His presence and His sacrifice for us…giving us the never-ending Christmas present: life…eternal life.


So until tomorrow…May we lay down our burdens on this Christmas Eve and every day…but especially today… taking time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

We were lucky with the weather yesterday…most of the rain held off until the children and grandchildren left around mid-afternoon…we held the snowball fight on the B&B side and everything worked out perfectly!

Our gathering also gave us time to have a family celebration to wish Walsh and Tommy a happy birthday. (Tommy and Kaitlyn have been sick with the flu but we are hoping they can join everyone  for a little while, at least, for the Christmas festivities.)

Here are the Clemson surfing snowmen that Anne helped me with by re-painting the surfboards in Clemson decor. Thanks so much Anne…Walsh loved his…and I am sure Tommy will too today.

The story was well received (“The Last Straw”) and I hope you enjoyed reading it today…I will share more photos of the Christmas festivities with you tomorrow. Here is a church photo taken prior to the service.

Apparently at some time a little stuffed camel could be bought with the children’s book “The Last Straw”…here are two cute “Hoshmakaka’s” I found on-line.


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to The Christmas Story for 2017-“The Last Straw”

  1. ambikasur says:

    A very happy and Merry Christmas to you and your family Becky… Story was too good… And wishing you all a happy n prosperous new year too… God bless .


  2. Nancyjean says:

    Oh, Becky, this was just perfect! We ended up having 34 scheduled for Christmas dinner, and I was in a panic – and my back hurt & i’d sprained my thumb – and I sounded just like Hoshomakaka! Dewey kept saying, “It will all work out,” and of course, it did. All it took was for family to arrive, and my worries slipped away. Perfection wasn’t needed – just love for each other and “the reason for the season.”
    Sending you love today and always!


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Wow! 34! I understand your panic…but it is true isn’t it…that all our worries come before an event, not during or after…because Jesus has been with us…and knows our needs….big gatherings are always more psychologically challenging than anything…and yet…people just want to be with people they love at Christmas…everything else is just icing on the cake. (And I am sure that was good too!) What a great story…thank you for sharing! Rest today!!!!!!!!


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