Fiction: A Dog Named Christmas
(Page 7 of 17)
I was not prepared to give up, though, so I said, “Yes, Mommy, and when does Christmas end?”
There was a long pause, and then she folded her napkin and rather resolutely placed it on the table, which meant more than the fact that she was finished with dinner. At least to me, it did, anyway.
“I’ve heard the reverend say that we should act with generosity and kindness every day, not just on Christmas Day,” she said, picking up her napkin and wiping her mouth firmly, as if to remove any unkind words or thoughts that might reside on her lips.
The uncomfortable feeling I had in my chest was growing worse. I tried to think of a response, but I knew none of them would work, so I simply hung my head and finished my dinner quietly.
Perhaps I was beaten and there was no use fighting it any longer. It wasn’t so much that I really cared about having another dog. When you already have four, what difference would one more make? I cared that my son and I had made a deal, and I wanted him to stick to it. I wanted Todd to learn to be more like an adult and less like a child. Adults try to keep their promises, even when they become uncomfortable. They have to learn that things can be good without being forever. And it also seemed that everybody was missing another important point: For the Adopt a Dog for Christmas program to work, families shouldn’t feel pressured to keep the animals. I knew that if I kept Christmas this year, I wouldn’t be back to the shelter next year, or any other.
After dinner, a parade of neighbors, family and friends began their annual trek through the door with cookies, candy, pies, cakes and small wrapped boxes. The women seemed to lead the parade, followed by the men. It was a Christmas ritual I could’ve done without that year. It wasn’t the train under the tree or the doll in the cradle that brought the visitors to the back room, it was Christmas the dog.
My son Mark showed no mercy for me as he led the parade of visitors to Christmas’ throne.
“I want you to see something really special, Hank,” Mark told a neighbor, looking up and grinning at me. “This is Christmas, Todd’s dog.”
Hank was an eighty-eight-year-old dairy farmer who was sharp, fit and worth a lot of money. He was a shrewd businessman and had no time for any animal that did not lactate for human consumption.
“You’re a fine old boy,” Hank said, with the authority and wisdom that only age can bestow, then bent down and scratched Christmas’ belly.
All heads in the room nodded in agreement. Todd smiled, and I suspect that I frowned.
“What’s wrong, George? Don’t you like Christmas?” Hank asked.
Todd, bless his heart, came to my rescue.
“No, Hank, Dad likes Christmas. He helped me get Christmas. He helped me pick him out from all those dogs needing a place to go.”
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