Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christmas 1987

I was eight years old.  A few months before, I had lost my beloved Alaskan Malamute, Lady.  She died at the age of eight.  She was until her death, my best friend.  Mom always said she picked me.  That they went into a pet store just to look around one day when I was around six months old.  I was in my stroller, and they had recently lost her predecessor, Eeka.  Eeka was an Alaskan Malamute who jumped the fence in our back yard, and was tragically killed by a train.  Mom's memory of my first moment with Lady, was Lady breaking free of her handler, and bounding up to me to slather my face with kisses.  I giggled and petted her face in my pudgy hands.  Needless to say after seeing this, mom and dad left the store with a new dog.

Lady and I grew up together.  I loved her so much.  I clearly remember the day she died, I remember my heartbreak.  I remember my eight year old mentality being angry with God for taking my best friend from me before I was ready to lose her.  I remember the heartache of experiencing my first real loss.  I am tearing up as I write this, remembering how my eight year old heart ached for her to come back to me.

That year, for Christmas, mom and dad asked for our lists.  I made mine out, and the only thing I wanted Santa to bring me was another Lady.  I wanted a puppy so bad.  I clearly remember how badly I wanted that.  I made quite the eight year old plea to Santa in my letter, and I believed in Santa with all my heart that he would bring me what my heart so desired.

Christmas morning rolled around, and I tore through my gifts looking for my puppy.  Mom and dad always surprised us, making us wait to open our biggest gifts last.  I thought for sure that they would take me out to the back (enclosed) porch, and I would find a Malamute pup with a big red bow tied around her neck.  Where Santa had expertly hid her from me.  I had opened every gift, and I wasn't ungrateful for what I received, but I desperately wanted that puppy.  Last was our stockings.  In mine was a letter from Santa, explaining that he couldn't make the decision to give me a puppy, that it was something only my parents could do, so to keep from overstepping their bounds, he advised me to talk to them.

My heart broke.  I read the letter over and over, in disbelief.  It didn't take me long to realize that the handwriting was my father's.  I knew very well what it looked like from all the times he would help me with homework, etc.  I knew in that moment that Santa wasn't "real".  That mom and dad carried out the spirit of Christmas every year.  That I wasn't getting another Lady no matter how hard I tried.  I know mom and dad had good reasons.  Their hearts broke losing Lady just as mine did.  They understood better than I did that every pet's life isn't long enough.  Maybe they were trying to save me the heartache of losing another animal.  Maybe we all ready had too many animals...  I expertly brought a kitten home earlier that year by getting an, "ask the other parent" answer from both parents, which by the way... she lived a solid healthy 18 years, and was my father's faithful friend.

You may be wondering why I am recounting this painful lesson learned to you now.  Well there is something special about Christmas this year in my family.  DQ will be 9 in January.  She is getting close to the age of not believing.  I know that from things she has said, and my own experience.  This may be the last Christmas I see the wonder in her eyes.  It may be the last Christmas I see the excitement at what is left under the tree.  So that has charged my heart with the Spirit of Christmas.  Right now we are watching Polar Express.  I'm contemplating getting them tickets to a local Polar Express ride.  She keeps asking about putting the tree up, and although it isn't Thanksgiving yet, I really want to get it up.  She made out her Santa list all ready, and we are walking it down to the mailbox today.  I want this season full of delight for her.  I want to get her everything on her list, although she asked for magic dust to turn her into a Vampire... thanks to the Netflix show, "My Babysitter is a Vampire", she now thinks they are the coolest thing ever....  *sigh*  Not quite sure how to fill that request, but we will think of something. 

 DQ told M the other night that he and I are the best Christmas Gifts she ever received.  That is such a huge difference from four years ago when she was really mourning the loss of her biological mother.  When she used to yell at V for calling me mommy, because I wasn't her real mommy.  Such a vast difference.  One that makes my heart melt. 

Hopefully this Christmas will be the best yet for her.  Hopefully I can instill the spirit of giving, and help her to understand that even if a jolly fat man in a red suit doesn't climb down the chimney and fill her every desire that there is so much more to Christmas than that.  Hopefully I can make her eight year old Christmas a good memory instead of a bittersweet one like mine was.  Now to make this the best Christmas EVER!

Aunt TT

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