Fiction: A Dog Named Christmas
(Page 6 of 17)
I was trying to do something nice for Todd and Christmas. Now it seemed that if I didn’t let Todd keep the dog, it might be me who was sent back to the shelter. I didn’t know what to do. I sat there silently and allowed the others to carry on the conversation, which inevitably made its way back to the dog.
Christmas occasionally pulled himself up from his royal throne and ambled around the dinner table for kind words and pats on the head, as well as scraps of meat and other delicacies. There didn’t seem to be any effort to teach the dog manners. Every woman at the table took her respective turn at adoration, starting with my daughter, Mary, an accountant. Holding Christmas’ head in her hands, she began talking in a way that made me feel even worse.
“Why, Christmas, I do believe you are the most handsome, kindest dog I’ve ever known. Why in the world would anyone put you in a shelter?” she said, looking up at me. Then, incredulously, she asked, “Why was he in the shelter?”
“No one knows. The woman at the shelter said he just showed up,” I said, then changed the subject. “Say, Mary, I have a couple questions on my taxes this year.”
“Well, you know, Dad,” Mary said. “I’ll bet the Adopt a Dog for Christmas program expenses are deductible. Do you think anybody has checked to make sure he’s had all his shots? Maybe you should do that for him. I’ll bet the vet would come out tomorrow if you called now.”
Christmas gently licked Mary’s hand as if showing his deep appreciation for her concern.
Soon the boys were taking turns talking to Christmas, having a lot of fun at my expense. Mark, my oldest son, a carpenter who had married his high school sweetheart and now had three boys of his own, undoubtedly felt it was his duty to make sure the boys were not outdone by their sister.
“Well, old boy, this could be your last Christmas in front of the fire. Why don’t you just take this turkey and go eat it,” Mark said. “I’ve got lots of turkey dinners left in my life,” he added, handing Christmas a large piece of turkey.
Thomas, the third oldest boy, speculated that at Christmas’ age, a change of environment could be stressful and that I’d have to be careful in moving the poor dog back to the shelter. Carl, the second oldest, was blessed with a quiet nature. He only felt the need to emphasize each of his siblings’ observations with a wide grin.
Maybe it was just my imagination, but it seemed that each time the subject of the dog came up, every man, woman and child looked at me. Todd, of course, understood none of the subtleties of the conversation, he was just pleased that his dog was commanding so much attention.
Even Mary Ann, my wife of forty-three years, seemed to be offering me very little support.
“I can’t remember when Todd has found something he has enjoyed more than taking care of this dog,” Mary Ann said in a voice I knew to be short on negotiation.
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