A little late, seeing as how Christmas is past, but I just had to write a story about that picture on the front of the MC home page. Everything was in readiness for Christmas at the The Frog’s home. There were garlands and wreaths, holly and ivy. There was, of course, mistletoe—loads and loads of it—hanging from every nook and cranny. An enormous white pine grace the living room, having been decorated within an inch of its life, and said tree was underscored by a large number of brightly wrapped gifts. The sweet scent of the pine mingled with the spicy smell of gingerbread. Hot mulled cider steamed on the stove. Somewhere in the house, Christmas music was playing—something muppety—and the television, usually silent and dark, now flickered with the picture and crackle of a fireplace. Into this safe and blessed environment, there crept a small, furtive figure. Hugging the walls, slipping ninja-like from shadow to shadow, it gained the relative shelter of the tree and slipped beneath the overhanging branches. Somewhere in this festive abode, Miss Piggy, aka Mrs. The Frog, drifted on a veritable sea of happy holiday musings, humming a little to herself as she got ready for a nice, quiet evening at home. She came down the curving staircase, her silk dressing gown billowing behind her, and passed the tree on the way to the kitchen with nary a look. Still, it world be inaccurate to say that she was unsuspicious. There had been rustlings and scurrying sounds throughout the afternoon, and one velvety ear was half-cocked for any unfamiliar sounds. She poured herself a ladle full of cider into a nice heavy mug and walked over to the dining room table to survey the reams of wrapping paper and rolls of ribbon that bore testament to the industriousness of at least one person in the family. She made a small “humm” of satisfaction and started back toward the stairs. Something that might have been almost silence stilled to silence as Piggy breezed past without a glance. Many had underestimated Miss Piggy to their detriment, and this was the case now. The divine diva feinted back and pounced on the source of the noise with stunning—and devastating—accuracy. There was a yelp, a brief but fairly one-sided struggle and—in less than two minutes—the would-be lurker underneath the tree found himself trussed like a Christmas turkey in wrapping paper and ribbon, and sitting on the dining room table. His own dining room table. “Piggy!” Kermit complained, struggling uselessly. “This is ridiculous. Let me out of here.” “You were snooping!” Piggy countered. “Again!” “I was not!” Kermit insisted. Piggy reached out and ran the tip of her index finger lazily down the soul of one of Kermit’s flippers. “Ahhhh! Ha ha—he he he—ahh! Stop!” Kermit cried. “Okay--I was snooping, but no fair tickling!” He tried to tuck his feet under him, out of Piggy’s easy reach, but merely fell backward because, with his arms secured beneath the wrapping paper, he had no balance. He stared up at the big chandelier for a moment, waiting for help. None was forthcoming. “Piggy,” he said, struggling to remain calm. “Could you help me here?” “Of course, Sweetheart,” Piggy said earnestly. “What would you like me to do?” Kermit had a couple of suggestions, but none of them were going to get him anywhere. He gritted his teeth and huffed out a big breath. “Piggy!” “Oh, here,” Piggy said, as if she’d just noticed. “You’ve fallen over. Let me help you up.” She sat Kermit back upright on the table and smiled at him. “There--that’s better now.” She was very close to him now, but her eyes betrayed nothing but solicitousness. No hint of glee escaped the depths of her big blue eyes, but Kermit knew she had to be beside herself with mirth. Sheesh, the pig could act, Kermit admitted, but not without some pride. He tried a different tact. “Honey,” he wheedled. “This is silly. Just let me out and—“ “What’s silly,” said Piggy firmly, “is you sneaking around like someone from Mission Impossible every year trying to find your Christmas presents. You never find them.” “But—but why can’t you just put them under the tree. I put your presents under the tree! “ “Yes,” Piggy said patiently. “But I don’t open mine before Christmas and then try to rewrap them so no one can tell.” She looked at him. “I can always tell.” Kermit pouted. “But—but Scooter said you got me one of those music thingys that you can get music off the computer with.” Piggy looked at him for a long moment. “Scooter might be sorry he said that,” she murmured, but her eyes were mild. “What difference does it make if I did?” “And—and Fozzie said you got me that jacket, the one with the fancy lapels and…square buttons,” he finished meekly. Piggy said nothing, sipping her cider. Kermit managed to look defiant and pathetic at the same time, no mean task that. Well, thought Piggy fondly. The frog can act, can’t he? “Anything else?” she said finally. “Um, Pepe said you were taking me to the Caribbean on a cruise.” Piggy’s half-opened eyelids actually flickered a little. She was going to have to keep a better eye on that little shrimp. “So?” Piggy said. “So…did you? Get me those things?” He gave his best imitation of Robin’s pollywog gaze and saw the corner of her mouth quirk just for an instant. Instead of answering, Piggy picked him up in both hands and carried him through the house. Kermit reassessed the situation quickly. This could be good. Piggy was already dressed for bed, and a little yuletide snuggling might be just the thing to set the holiday mood. In fact, it might be— “Piggy!” Kermit protested. Piggy had set him carefully down near the tree and was walking past him up the stairs. She was only gone for a few minutes when she re-emerged carrying a hanging bag from a high-end ladies fashion boutique and her pocketbook. She unzipped the hanging bag, and Kermit let out a little hiss of pleasure. The jacket! The one he had lusted after that day on Rodeo Drive. Piggy had gotten it! “Oh—it’s beautiful, Piggy! I love it! I love you.” “Of course, Mon Capitan,” Piggy murmured. She laid the intricatedly tailored garment near Kermit on the floor, then reached for her purse. After a moment, she unzipped a pocket and pulled out what looked for all the world like an odd-shaped toothbrush. It was lime green. “Is that—is that the music thingy?” “Yes,” said Piggy patiently. “It’s called an MP3 player and Scooter has downloaded most of your favorite songs from Muppet Central Radio already.” “Oh, Honey,” Kermit said. “It’s wonderful.” He had to crane his neck to look at it there on the tree skirt near his flipper. “How do you play it?” “Scooter’s going to tutor you,” Piggy said gently. She looked back into her purse, unzipping two pockets before finding the right one. “And these,” she said, “are our tickets to the Caribbean in a first-class cabin.” She reached out and touched his face. “Just you and me and several hundred people we don’t work for and who don’t work for us on a seven-day cruise to paradise.” “Oh, Piggy,” said Kermit. “That—that sounds wonderful.” He leaned forward and Piggy met him halfway. Her lips tasted like cider, sweet and tart at the same time. Just like her, Kermit thought. Forgetting his predicament, he went to put his arms around her, remembered he was otherwise encumbered and fell forward. He landed with his face on the lapel of the jacket. “Um, Piggy?” “Yes, Mon Capitan?” answered his wife. She sounded further away than she had been a moment earlier, and Kermit rolled over with difficulty to find her ascending the steps. “Honey—where are you going?” Piggy smiled at him warmly. “Our cruise leaves at 8:00 tomorrow morning, so we have to get up early.” She yawned and stretched elaborately. “We’d better catch a little shut-eye before then.” “But—but aren’t you forgetting something?” Kermit asked dryly. Piggy looked startled and gave herself a little shake. “Oh,” she said. “How silly of me!” She walked back down the steps. Her dressing gown billowed out behind her, revealing typical Piggy-type lingerie, and Kermit gave a little sigh of pleasure. Seven days alone with Piggy on a cruise sounded heavenly. Now, if she’d just— Piggy stooped down in front of him, picked up her purse, and started back up the stairs. “Good-night, Kermie,” she called sweetly. “Piggy!” “Oh!” she said, stopping suddenly. She turned and looked at him, a wicked gleam in her blue eyes. Kermit looked up hopefully. “I almost forgot,” Piggy said. She smiled at him, her eyes warm. “I do have something else for you, but you’ll have to come upstairs to get it.” Kermit let out a little groan of frustration. “Piggy….” She started up the stairs again and, this time, she didn’t pause or look back. “Piggy! So help me!” The light at the top of the stairs winked out and Kermit found himself bathed in the soft twinkling light of the Christmas tree, his face pressed against front of the jacket. Wow, he thought. This silk is really soft. Then he sighed, heaved himself upright with difficulty and began the arduous task of working himself free of the Christmas wrapping. Oh well, he thought philosophically. I’ve done it before.