Flickertail the llama and Paint the horse were building a snow horse in the freshly fallen snow when Alice stopped by to visit with Mary.
“I’m really worried about my granddaughter, Lynn,” they heard Alice say to Mary.
“I hope she doesn’t have that nasty flu that’s going around,” said Mary.
“No. She’s really missing her pet lamb. My son, Jeff and his wife, Sheila have been having a hard time of it. She lost her job and they depended on her income to help buy feed for the animals. They’ve had to sell them all. Lynn’s lamb was her 4H project and she was really attached to that lamb. She seems depressed to me. She doesn’t have any interest in any of the things we used to do together. She always loved helping me decorate the tree and make Christmas cookies.”
“Is she old enough to understand the situation?”
Alice nodded. “She should be. She just isn’t accepting it very well.”
“When is Lynn coming to visit with you again?”
“Sheila has a job interview this afternoon and she is dropping Lynn off.”
“Well, I hope Sheila gets the job.”
“I do too, but they’ve gotten so behind on their bills that I don’t think they will be able to buy back Lynn’s lamb even if Sheila does get the job.”
“Why not bring Lynn over here? She might enjoy playing with all of the animals.”
“It’s certainly worth a try. I’ll bring her by around 2 o’clock.”
Alice left and Mary went back in the house.
Flickertail said, “Poor little girl. I wonder how we can help make her visit here special.”
“Cinnamon had a baby a few months ago. I’ll bet Lynn would love playing with a baby llama. He’s soft and wooly like a lamb.” Paint recommended.
“Great idea. Let’s go talk with Cinnamon.”
“Let me see if Princess still has the pretty sweater she made for her cria to help keep her warm. Snowball can go outside to play in the snow with Lynn,” said Cinnamon.
When Lynn and Alice arrived, Cinnamon and Snowball were ready and waiting for her.
“Awww,” said Lynn. “Can I play with the cute little baby llama, Grandma?”
“If it’s OK with Mary.”
“Of course. Just be really gentle,” said Mary.
“I know. I had to be gentle with my lamb too. What’s his name?”
“Snowball. He’s a cria.”
“What’s a cria?”
“A baby llama.”
“How come he’s wearing a sweater?”
“I guess he wants to play outside with you.”
“Oh goodie. Can he walk around an agility course yet?”
“No, why don’t you teach him?”
Mary and Alice got the obstacles from the tack room and Lynn helped set them up outside. She set up a ramp, a flat bridge and another ramp for the other side of the bridge. “I’ll just start out with this for now.”
Very patiently, she taught Snowball how to walk up the ramp, across the bridge, and down the other ramp. After a few tries, he did it perfectly and Lynn gave him a llama treat and a hug. “What a good boy! You are so smart,” she said.
“Do you want to try walking him through a tire next?”
“No. I’ll think I’ll just take him for a little walk, now to relax him. I don’t want to tire him out too much. Can I come back tomorrow to work with him some more?”
Mary smiled and nodded. “If it’s OK with your grandma and your parents.”
“It’s fine with me,” said Alice, “But you’ll have to ask your mom.”
Lynn came by every day after school and on weekends to work with Snowball.
One day Mary said to Lynn, “You have done such a great job training Snowball, I think he is ready to be in the Christmas Parade. I just don’t have the time to be in the parade. Would you walk with him?”
“Ooo yes. Could I make a costume for him and enter him in the costume contest too?”
“That sounds like fun. What kind of costume will you make?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ll have to think about it.”
“Well, if you need any help, let me know. I might have some old material and other things around here you could use.”
A few days later, Lynn was rummaging around in the barn. She found the peacock costume Flickertail and Paint had made to camouflage William, the turkey during Thanksgiving. She ran with it to find Mary. “This is great. Can I use this?”
Flickertail followed her, wondering what she was doing with the costume.
Noticing Flickertail’s concern, Mary laughed. “I think you’d better ask Flickertail. It’s his costume. He made it for William.”
“You knew about that?” Flickertail asked.
“You should know by now, you can’t hide much from me around here. You’ve been hiding William for the last three Thanksgivings. I have to admire your loyalty. You and Paint really outdid yourself this year though.”
“You mean we wouldn’t have had to hide him? Why didn’t you say something?”
“I was having too much fun watching you and Paint come up with clever ideas.”
“So is it OK, Flickertail?” Lynn interrupted.
Flickertail shrugged, “It doesn’t look like William will be needing it again.”
“Sorry to spoil your fun, Flickertail,” said Mary.
“It’s alright, I guess. I just feel kind of silly.”
“Being a caring friend is never silly.” Mary gave Flickertail a hug.
“It will probably need some adjustments to fit Snowball. Paint and I can help with that.”
Lynn, Flickertail and Paint worked on the costume until it fit Snowball perfectly.
The next Saturday, Lynn and Snowball won the blue ribbon for the best costume. When she brought Snowball back, Lynn ran into the barn by Flickertail, Paint, and Mary. She gave them each a hug and handed the ribbon to them.
“All of you deserve this for being the best friends I ever had. Thanks to all of you and Snowball this is the best Christmas ever.”