Let's be honest. Every Christmas is riddled with miracles, not the least of which is that we pulled it off, again. Moms and Dads (and grandparents and generous aunts and uncles everywhere), we did it. This was what J said as he raised his mug of late night coffee to me. We did it. This time last night, we were creeping upstairs knowing the kids were waking up to this:
I don't just mean the STUFF--the tree and the nativity, the advent stockings, the Elf, the wrapped books and art supplies, the coveted goalie pads and iPads.
As my favorite holiday, I take Christmas very seriously. I have written odes to my favorite books of the season as well as my favorite songs. I carefully consider the impact of gifts, from every aspect. Equitable, environmental, developmental, and of course, the WOW factor.
So when I say we did it, I mean that we followed our family rituals in hopes of creating tradition and maintaining a sense of the magic. This year, that felt extra miraculous. And not for the obvious reason that we hit the ground running from our Utila Vida Tranquila three weeks ago.
In a whirlwind short span of time, we went from lazy days of hermit crab races, slow snorkeling and boat commutes to fast food, a dozen hockey games and a tank of gas in two jam-packed weekend days.
The first wrench in the holiday works was Sampson, who must have gained twenty pounds (fifteen of it fur!) under the loving care of Aunt Kim and Uncle Matt. What's Christmas without a little dog blog drama?
A week ago, we experienced some unseasonably warm weather and hockey practices were canceled, so the kids took Sampson fishing. What is more idyllic than kids and their dog, fishing? I put down the presents I was wrapping, opened the window and snapped a photo. Shortly after the below photo was taken, Hayden came running to the house and confessed tearfully that as he was changing his tackle from catfish bait (hot dog and hook) to bass lure, Sampson lunged and swallowed the bait--literally hook, line and sinker.
I'm going to give away a little free veterinary advice, in case this horror happens to any of my dog-loving friends: if your dumb dog swallows a fish hook, you do not rush him to the vet for emergency surgery as we were imagining. Instead, we were instructed to feed Sampson a dozen cotton balls slathered in peanut butter. And bread too, if we could get it into him, also with the peanut butter and American cheese. The idea being that these items would form a protective barrier around the hook and it would pass through safely.
Then, you wait. And watch. And sift hopefully through every cottony turd. Hayden took on this task with me, and sometimes as we shivered outside with a flashlight and some plastic forks, mouth breathing from the steaming stench of it, he would say that this was all he wanted for Christmas, for Sampson to be okay, for the hook to pass through without damage. A Christmas miracle.
As of Christmas eve, the last time we officially looked, we had not found the hook, (non-chrome hooks can actually be dissolved by a dog's stomach acid) but it looks like Hayden may have gotten his wish, freeing us up to enjoy Christmas.
This morning, when the kids crept up the stairs and into our bed to wake us for stockings-breakfast-presents, Piper did not say, "Merry Christmas," but instead, "My stomach hurts." We led her down the hall, video camera rolling, to show her the big gift, what had kept me and Mr. Claus up banging around and socket wrenching until all hours of the night, taking the king size family bed out of her tiny room and assembling her new bed. The boys, who were in on the surprise, threw open her door for the big HGTV reveal, and in what is destined to become a home movie classic, Piper promptly threw up.
From then on, Christmas took a slight veer off the predicted path of our usual ritual. Instead of stockings-breakfast-presents, everything was punctuated with vomiting. Poor Pip insisted the show go on, with her bravely participating. She would open a present, give a weak smile, and then yak a little more foamy barf into her bowl. Midday, the two patients retired to try out her new bed. This is how they spent the rest of the day:
The three boys went off to play some family hockey, and I rattled around the house, reflecting and cleaning up. Peeking in on the two of them, counting my blessings that Sampson and Piper both seemed to be resting comfortably, I said a small prayer of gratitude.
We did it. Again. Another year; Christmas miracle.
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