A long time ago, there was a lonely, homeless beard. To protect his privacy, we'll call him Rupert.
Once, Rupert had been a large, flowing white beard full of life, joy, and little pieces of yesterday's roast beef and potatoes. His master loved him like a son.
Well, not quite. But still, he loved him very much.
Then came the fateful day when, due to harsh economic circumstances, his master had to give up his dream of being a famous novelist and go to work for a local fast food restaurant, McGrubbies.
The Manager of McGrubbies hired him on one condition.
"You've got to get rid of that beard!" said the Manager. "It's better off on its own. If the Health Department sees it, we'll get in trouble, and they're throw it into Beard Jail."
The Master was briefly torn between his need for money and his love for his beard. But money won out in the end, as it so often does.
"I'm sorry," he said, and a tear rolled down his cheek as the scissors went snick! snick! snick! Rupert fell to the floor with a flump, and slowly inched his way out the door.
Now, cut loose from his home chin, Rupert was nothing more than a dirty collection of tangled hairs. He fondly remembered how his master used to stroke him and cuddle with him, and how it used to keep him warm in the winter. If Rupert could have cried hairy tears, he would have.
Rupert crawled miserably along the sidewalk, pausing dramatically now and then to feel sorry for himself. Suddenly, the wind picked up, and a gust lifted the beard into the air. Several strands of hair floated away and were seized by passing birds, who incorporated them into their nests.
Presently, he smacked into something with a thwop! It was a face. Rupert thrrrped with joy. A face! Finally, a new chin on which to rest!
The face said, "Ew, a possum!" and grabbed at the beard. The person to whom the face belonged held Rupert up and examined him.
"Oh," the person said. "It's just a dirty old beard. Yuck!" The person threw Rupert to the ground, leaving him more dejected and morose than ever.
No one will ever love me again... thought Rupert.
It wasn't long before the wind caught him again. He bumbled along like a tumbleweed, wafting through the suburbs and into the city, where he smacked into something else with a thwop! A big black nose sniffed at him. The nose belonged to a big brown dog of indeterminate breed.
The dog said "Arf!" In his depressed state, Rupert assumed this meant that the dog hated him too. Unfortunately for Rupert, this was rather far from the truth. Really, in dog language, this meant, "Ooh! A possum!"
The big brown dog of indeterminate breed picked Rupert up in his mouth and tossed its head back and forth. scattering more hairs to the wind.
Ow! thought Rupert. This dog loves me a little too much...
This went on for quite a while. Eventually the big brown dog of indeterminate breed figured out that Rupert was in fact a beard, not a possum. "Arf!" the dog said.
Rupert was now dirtier and slobberier than ever. The wind picked him up again, dragging him along through the muck. Eventually, the wind dropped him in front of a house in the middle of the city, and there he sat, feeling as though the entire world had unceremoniously taken a poo directly upon him.
The house belonged to Cornelius P. Widdleston, of the Mid-City Santa Brigade. The children called him Mr. Widdles for short, so that's what we'll call him from now on.
Mr. Widdles was a jolly, good little man who, along with other members of the Mid-City Santa Brigade, dressed up as Santa, visited the homes of children who did not have very much money, and gave them Christmas presents.
Mr. Widdles was in a very bad mood.
"Where is my Santa beard?!" he shouted, storming around the house. "I can't be Santa without my beard!"
It wasn't in the bathroom. It wasn't in the fridge. It wasn't in the microwave. It certainly wasn't in the living room.
Mr. Widdles flopped down on the couch in a huff. "This is ridiculous," he said. "I just used it yesterday!"
He looked at his watch and gasped. "It's almost time for me to leave!" He shrugged and sighed. "Oh well. At least I can still give them the presents."
Wearing the rest of his Santa suit, Mr. Widdles stumped out the door.
"What's that, a possum?" said Mr. Widdles.
There was Rupert, lying in a beardy pile on the doorstep.
Mr. Widdles picked him up. "Wait a minute...that's a beard!" he said. "Hmm. It's pretty dirty."
Then, Mr. Widdles had a stupendous idea. Taking Rupert inside, he shampooed him up and put him under some hot, hot water, scrubbing him until all the dirt and grime came out.
Ow ow ow! thought Rupert. He's a maniac! Surely this'll be the end of me.
After carefully wringing Rupert out, Mr. Widdles took a hair dryer and blew hot air on him - vree! vree! - until he was dry and poofy.
"There! Good as new!" said Mr. Widdles. "It's even better than my other beard. Who would give up a beard like this?"
I'm...I'm clean! thought Rupert. And I think he likes me! Maybe things aren't going to be as bad as I thought they were.
Mr. Widdles glued a rubber band to Rupert so he could wear him on his face. Rupert wasn't so sure about this part, but it felt good to be resting on a chin again.
Then, with Rupert on his face and a jaunty Christmas tune stuck in his head, Mr. Widdles stepped out the door to bring joy to all the Mid-City children.
And so, the beard that had been cast off and forgotten found a home, and became The Christmas Beard.
Merry Christmas from the Institute.