Fiction: A Dog Named Christmas
(Page 16 of 17)
Mary Ann lifted the boy into her arms and said, “It’s time.”
I don’t remember any of the presents that I gave or received that year. Truth was, I seldom gave or received anything that was truly needed. It was late by the time all the presents were opened and the children were loaded into the car.
The next day brought us a holiday that I would always remember.
By two-thirty in the afternoon of Christmas Day, Lilly had given birth to four puppies. Todd, Mary Ann, Christmas and I made hourly trips to the barn to check on them. When Beth heard the news, she drove out to see them, and Todd took great care showing her each puppy.
I could tell she was impressed with Todd’s ability to handle animals, and she pulled me aside later and whispered, “George, after Christmas, call me. I’d like to discuss Todd with you. We might have something of interest to him.”
Beth seemed to linger, and I realized why when I saw the news truck pull into the driveway again. They were here to do a story on the puppies, which now were also part of the Adopt a Dog for Christmas program. It would air on both the six o’clock and ten o’clock news.
One of the reporters took a picture of us holding the puppies. She later autographed it for us, and it still sits on the table beside my bed. When the news crew was finished with us, they went down the road to do a segment on Hank Fisher. It seemed he was doing just fine with his two dogs.
Later that night, Mark’s children called to tell Todd of the happenings of their adopted dogs, and Todd, in turn, updated them on the puppies. Mary Ann warmed up leftovers, and we relaxed after we ate. Just before we were ready to turn in for the night, Mary Ann leaned over and kissed me softly on the cheek.
“Merry Christmas, George,” she whispered.
I held her tightly, not only because I loved her dearly, but also because I wanted to hold onto the moment.
“Merry Christmas, Mary Ann.”
“George, what are you going to do with Christmas tomorrow?” she asked softly.
I took her hand in mine and said, “I don’t know.”
At that particular moment, I could not explain that what I wanted to give Todd was a gift even more important than a dog. I didn’t know how to explain that the gift with the most love cannot always be wrapped or delivered. I didn’t know if Mary Ann could accept that some gifts are not given but withheld. Just then, I knew exactly what I had to do, I just wasn’t quite sure how to do it.
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