455 – I’ll Be Home For Christmas and the Ghost of Christmas Past

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas and the Ghost of Christmas Past

For decades, coming home was the very best feeling. Long grueling days on the road gave way to hibernation on the deck …. Until the next time.

2020 has turned hibernation on the deck, home, our safe space – into a form of torture for many of us. This whiplash dichotomy, the sense that what was safe is suddenly maddening, has left us feeling unmoored. Which has made us all, frankly, a bit nuts.

Solstice, the shortest, darkest day, has passed. In this, the most challenging year in generations, the coming of the light in the new year is profoundly important.

The holidays are upon us. The spirit of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, solstice and more all emphasize the magic of Giving … Let’s take a minute to concentrate on gifts given and received in the world of purebred dogs.

Give to newbies

Sometimes, especially for folks just entering this tribe, it can feel like everyone around is one more Grinch that stole Christmas … when you find yourself trapped in the Grinchy glee of bad mouthing, gossip and holier than thou, take a step back and go find a Cindy Lou Whoo … your time at dog events will be much more pleasant. If you don’t know any, come join the Pure Dog Talk Patrons… This group of “crazy dog ladies” represents the VERY best of our tribe.

Gifts of Mentorship Given and Received

We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. Sir Isaac Newton’s famous quote, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” is a very fitting one in the world of purebred dogs. Thank the breeder of your dog, your foundation bitch, the influential stud dog. Nobody here achieved one single blessed thing on their own account. Everyone started somewhere and with the knowledge, hard work and blood, sweat and tears of those who went before them.

The gifts we give and the gifts we receive

Our dogs… Dogs give without thought…. Unconditional love is a thing, or at least a reliable thing, mostly in dogs. As breeders, we create this gift for others every day. We give the gift of unconditional love in a furry four-legged package year ‘round. That is a powerful and beautiful thing.

Ghost of Christmas Past (with a few 2020 updates…)

’Twas the Night Before Christmas

And all through the house, it was an uproar!

Puppies c-sectioned today and now we’re really poor.

Singing Silent Night, off key, to soothe the hungry babes. What’s verse four?

What I wouldn’t give for a long winter’s nap, before…

Oh Lord, what was that clatter.

I stumble from bed to see what’s the matter

And what to my wondering eyes should appear

But eight naughty dog rears,

Running amuck through the room,

Stockings and tinsel and ribbons trailing. Wait! Is that my broom?

OK, I’ll spare you the rest of the agony. Meter and rhyme are clearly not my skills.

Despite the inability to pen a limerick or a sonnet, I’d like to take the liberty of using this space for a bit of reflection, in keeping with the holiday season.

This is the one week of the year that we’re all guaranteed to be home from the shows. Dog toys under the tree and stockings for each of our pets. We spend way more time wrapping balls and bones and outfits for our dogs than we do shoving a bottle of wine in a gift bag for friends.

What about all of you out there? What are your traditions? Do you invite a few solo folks from your kennel club to dinner? (Maybe this year you can take dinner to them in a safe delivery.) Take donations to your local animal shelter? Help serve a holiday dinner for the homeless in your community? (This year, food insecurity is devastatingly real for people in every community. Consider a donation to FIDO to help feed hungry pets as well.) Or stay home, watch football and play cards? Whatever you do, make the most and the best of it.

When I was little, the rule in our house was Christmas morning present opening would not begin until you could read a book without the lights on. My parents’ brilliant scheme to get some sleep was thwarted by all my years reading after bedtime and, thus, my *uncanny* ability to discern words on a page by the barest of starlight.

The mad dash and rush and scramble to open presents was followed by Christmas dinner — literally over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we went. The menu was always the same, like Groundhog Day each year: clam dip and Ruffles potato chips, then turkey and whipped potatoes with gravy and candied carrots, and, finally, pecan pie and pumpkin pie and chocolate pie. Milk for the kids and iced tea for the grown ups. Eventually, Gramma would break out her boiled custard. She was a very proper Southern Belle and would no more buy alcohol than spit in public. But each year she’d send Sister Jequetta, one of the nuns from the hospital where Gramma worked, into the liquor store to buy a small bottle of “flavoring” for the custard.

I’ve spent lonely Christmas Eves over the years since then, some very, very tough ones. But those images, engraved in my memory, have always brought me comfort.

My Christmas wish for you, and you, and you, for all of you, is to feel the magic of stillness, if only for a minute. The love of family near or far, whether by blood or birds of a feather, matters not. The quiet nuzzle of an old, familiar muzzle or the mischievous romping and sparkling eyes of a pup. Rest from a job well done, a year well spent. The simple comforts of home and hearth and good food. Hushed refrains from the carols of holidays past and the deep, abiding pleasure of giving to others. Twinkling lights and evergreen scents and a few pretty bows. Laughter and reindeer and cookies for Santa. After all, even Mr. Grinch was charmed by Cindy Lou Whoo.

My dream, dear friends, is truly peace on Earth and goodwill to man (and beast).

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.






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