The Everlasting Christmas Gift
It was 1993 and Christmas was approaching fast. I had that crazy Christmas gift idea my husband wasn't enthusiastic about at all. As usual, he thought I'm exaggerating things besides the fact the idea had more con than possible pro outcomes with a big chance to become a total failure. But driven by some inner feeling, I was persistent and finally managed to convince him we should try even if it wouldn't work the way I was hoping it would.
In that distant 1993 kids were small. The oldest was six, my daughter was three, and the youngest was only 18 months old. My daily schedules back then were nothing but insanely filled with tasks without almost a single spare minute.
Besides my regular obligations as a mother and wife (cooking, cleaning, and other household maintaining stuff), I was scattering myself in between taking the kids (in the morning) to the kindergarten, each on different location (don't ask me why), and bringing them back (in the afternoon). In the meantime I was at work, running a company that we owned at that time.
Looking at it from the current perspective, I'm not sure I would be able to repeat that if I would ever be put again in the same or similar situation. I don't know how I managed to squeeze all those things that were supposed to be done inside 24 hours, but I remember I tried to stop the clock in all sorts of ways on a daily basis.
However, and as I already said, Christmas was approaching fast, and everything should have been done on time so kids may always keep a pleasant memory about that special day of the year, no matter how much extra work does it take. Having in mind my crazy Christmas gift idea, besides regular extra work that year it had a lot of additional ones.
In the first place, I couldn't find the gift in our city or at least not the exact one I wanted. I still don't know does it was because of that time of the year, or it was just some unfortunate circumstances (for us) of the particular year, but I remember it took me quite some time including pulling some strings to find it finally in another, two hours driving faraway town.
The custom in my family is to open the presents on Christmas Eve after decorating the Christmas tree and returning home from the midnight mass, what was somewhat adjusted to be earlier in the evening for small kids. Therefore, I had to arrange with the seller to be able to pick that special gift on the Christmas Eve day.
Luckily I managed to arrange that and somewhere around noon I jumped in my car heading to pick the gift. I left the kids with my husband hoping everything would stay in place until I return, and I remember shouted at him while I was entering the car: "Take the cake out of the oven in 30 minutes!"
(We didn't have mobile phones in 1993, and I didn't have a chance to call him from the road to remind him.)
But, how I've got the idea for that special Christmas gift after all?
It was late autumn, and I just picked my daughter from the kindergarten which wasn't that far away, so we were going back home on foot. She was cheerfully jumping beside me and telling me some important news and experiences she collected in the kindergarten that day.
We were about halfway to the house at the beginning of one not so long street when my daughter suddenly started to cry and scream. While I was still trying to figure out what happens, she already climbed on me as the cat would climb the tree, wrapped her small hands around my neck hugging me tightly and screaming in panic.
Only then, on the other end of the street, I noticed a woman with a small dog that was walking toward us. I knew my daughter was not some fan of the dogs and in fact a bit afraid of them, but I have never seen her having such severe panic attack.
I couldn't calm her down. She was screaming like crazy. Holding her in my arms, I crossed the street whispering in her ear some comforting words, trying to assure her there is nothing she should be afraid of and after all, it was just some small dog in question I hardly even noticed at the beginning from that distance. Nothing really worked until we arrived home when she finally calmed down.
Following few months, I intensively thought what should I do to help her get rid of that fear. All sorts of solutions crossed my mind already, and I was just contemplating about some professional counseling when this Christmas gift idea hit me. Although it appeared somewhat crazy, it still seemed to me like the most natural solution we certainly should try.
It was late afternoon or early evening on that 1993 Christmas Eve when I returned from that two hours driving faraway town with a small puppy in the car. I couldn't bring him into the house immediately when arrived back as we still had to decorate our Christmas tree first.
As it was cold winter, I left the car running to keep it warm for the puppy while we finish all the preparations for the big moment. My husband and I were exchanging shifts of running outside to the car and checking the puppy, bringing some water and food, and running back inside.
At some point, our older son got suspicious why we are continually running inside-out although we tried to keep it unnoticed. Luckily he was excited enough about other things going around and most curiously expecting Christmas presents, so it wasn't that hard to distract his attention from those unwanted questions.
The moment finally arrived. My husband took the kids to their room to play with them there and occupy them so I could place the colorfully wrapped gifts under the tree. When I arrived at children's room to join them, we heard the bell that was hanging on the Christmas tree, ringing. It was a sign that presents just arrived.
Our older son knew that so he started shouting: "The gifts arrived! The gifts arrived!"
He and our daughter ran to the living room where the Christmas tree was placed. Our youngest son tried to ketch them although he was still more crawling than walking at the time.
They started unwrapping the boxes. In one of them, in the last minute, I placed the puppy. The only difference was the box with the puppy had several bigger holes so the puppy could easily breathe. I was a bit afraid the puppy might disclose itself with whining, but it was calmly laying down half asleep.
It happens the box with the puppy remained the last unwrapped one. Before our oldest son unwrapped it, he asked us whose present that is. We told him the names of all three of them are written on the box, so it's a joint gift for all of them.
When the box was finally opened, almost like in some Disney movie, the puppy stood up and show its had over the box edge.
For few short seconds, the puppy was staring at the kids standing in the line in front of the box the same way they were staring at it. My eyes were mostly glued to my daughter.
The oldest son took the puppy out of the box, and the shower of questions started. "Whose that puppy is? Is it really ours? What's its name? How old is it?"
My daughter was standing still seriously observing from the safe distance until she saw her 18 months old younger brother playfully and fearlessly crawling around with the puppy, that small, cheerful being he was so fascinated with. Then she approached little closer.
It took her about a week to fully accept and adjust to that new family member.
Back to 2017 - present time.
Last week, several days before Christmas my daughter reminded me of that event. She told me:
- Back then and many years after I wrongly thought the dog, that little puppy your brought was our Christmas present, but in fact, it wasn't.
I was a bit surprised hearing that but I let her finish.
- With it the animal's world was closely introduced to us. - She continued. - We learned how to communicate with it and behave around it, and above all, I received fearlessness.
- You know mom, - she said, - it wasn't just a Christmas gift, it was an everlasting Christmas gift!
Authored by @ana-maria