Going squirrelly

Originally Appeared in : Vol. 100 No. 02

Snack time had arrived for the Halcombes, who were all settled in and around picnic benches in an alcove to the left of Cinderella’s castle.

I was probably the most excited of the bunch because, with a Disney Dining Plan that overloads on snacks, we had to this point never used all of the credits prior to check out on any previous vacation.

I made it clear to my crowd that we were going to use our ponts up on more practical things like overpriced ice cream bars, pretzels and churros.

I was on a return trip from a churro/pretzel/ice cream bar stand when I arrived to find Magan and the kids acting out hysterically.

“What’s wrong?” I said as I passed out the confections to the lot.

“It won’t leave us alone,” Magan said.

“What won’t?” I replied.

“The squirrel,” she said.

Before I could assess the situation, the rodent dove down onto the table, and then towards our feet as kids squealed almost in pitch with the afternoon parade music streaming a few hundred feet over.

Everyone’s feet began looking like French cabaret dancers, trying to scare the squirrel back into the brush but with no luck.

“He wants the chocolate from the ice cream bar,” Magan said, shooing as she screamed.

“Kick it!” and “Stomp it, daddy” came from assorted little voices around the table and in strollers.

My reply was to take my hat off and shake it violently at the squirrel but apparently he had seen this tactic before and was unfazed. Next thing I know, he was directly behind Magan eyeing her hair.

“Don’t move,” I said.

“Squish it daddy,” Isaac said.

“Yeah, kill it,” Elijah said.

By this time, the temptation to inflict harm was becoming more enticing but I didn’t want to hurt the squirrel because he was only doing what had been encouraged by countless others who fed it snacks from their dining plans to achieve artificially what I had hoped to achieve naturally.

I decided I had had enough and, was prepared to defend my bride’s honor and engage the squirrel.

I raised my hat over my shoulder with more intensity and, to my surprise, the squirrel simply sat back on his hind legs and put up his dukes. This squirrel meant he was going to get some Mickey Ice Cream bar.

I started clapping and stomping, and I’m pretty sure the squirrel laughed in reply. Finally, with a final dive to the dirt and, thanks to AnnaMarie’s sloppy snacking, the squirrel retrieved a large chunk of chocolate shell and sprinted into the bushes.
I just shook my head.

For all of the craziness, however, we had been able to scurry the squirrel away and whittle our snacks in pretty short order.
The kids continued to ask why I hadn’t stomped the squirrel, and I explained that even though the squirrel was causing us stress that didn’t give us the right to cause him harm. Animals do not warrant a place equal to or greater than man, but how we treat animals says a lot about how we’re likely to treat God’s most precious creation: mankind.

The Bible teaches that “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment,” James, 2:13.

Showing mercy, even to a snack-crazed squirrel, will hopefully teach our children about the value of showing compassion and patience towards their fellow man.

Because, as we all know, a life lived full of faith, grace and mercy will offer us a chance at unlimited snacks in a much nicer place than Disney World where I also heard the squirrels are much more polite.

Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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