Memoir

Christmas Traditions


image courtesy Mdk572, Creative Commons

The year we moved to the suburbs after years of city apartment living was a memorable one. My mom got my sister and me a dog to go with our yard. His name was Yankee. He was an odd sort of dog; a mix of some kind of husky and a small dog breed. His fur had weird cowlicks that stuck straight out while other parts lay short and flat.  He never got the hang of potty training. His eyes kind of wobbled around in his head and we couldn’t teach him any tricks, but we found out he loved the snow. We got a saucer sled because we had a hill. It snowed right before that first Christmas in the suburbs and we had a lot of fun with Yankee and the sled and the hill.

Our family had a holiday tradition. We were allowed to choose one present to open on Christmas Eve. The rest had to stay under the tree until Christmas morning. Oh, how my sister and I agonized over which present to choose each year! It was an exquisite torture for a child to stop at one gift. That year there seemed to be so many more presents than in the past. The gifts had expanded with the space. There were lots of little packages and one very big package. We chose very carefully with some coaching from Mom, and ended up playing with a new board game until bedtime. That Christmas morning we woke up as early as possible and herded into the living room. We were stopped in our tracks.

The carpet was littered with scraps of wrapping paper, mangled bows, and lots of broken pieces of wood. Christmas ornaments made a crunchy obstacle course in any empty spaces on the floor. That big present still had some shreds of wrapping, but one of the sides looked suspiciously full of teeth marks. Yankee had celebrated his first Christmas by chewing up almost every one of our presents. Most of the gifts were made of wood: furniture for a dollhouse and the dollhouse itself that now leaned precariously to one side. We salvaged the porcelain miniature claw foot bathtub and a sink.

Poor Yankee. He made it through that Christmas alive, but was ‘in the dog house’ for quite a while. He didn’t last in suburbia until the next Christmas, instead going to live in the country with my grandparents where he could chew on Grandma’s soup bones and play in the snow all he wanted. I can’t say that was the most depressing Christmas I ever had, but it was in the top five. And I subconsciously remember it every Christmas Eve when it’s time to choose a present and I get a tension headache.

Merry Christmas, Yankee.

Question: Did/do you have any Christmas family traditions?

5 replies »

  1. Oh Kristin, My heart ached when I read this post. Yankee was the Grinch that ate Christmas! Still, this childhood tragedy made fun adult reading. Merry Christmas! May this be a good one for you and your family.
    Hugs,
    Jackie

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  2. Sounds just like a story my late wife Becky would tell. She was the “dog person” in our family. Woof, woof. Our pets always got presents for Christmas and she also celebrated their birthdays. Becky was fiercely camera shy until it came to having her picture taken with one of the dogs. Woof, woof agion. LOL Nice memories. Thanks for posting. Merry Christmas.

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  3. LOL! It’s funny now, but I’m sure it wasn’t then.

    One of my former roommates owned a dog while we shared a house together. Our neighbors had just given us a Christmas basket filled with ingredients to make all sorts of Christmas cookies, and had placed two large hand-sewn bags of flour and sugar in the basket.

    Both of us had to run out of the house on a family emergency, and we forgot to put the basket out of reach. Wen we returned, the dog had gotten hold of the flour and sugar bags, and from the looks of devastation in the house, it seems he took them into various rooms and proceeded to shake them as hard as he could. We had flour and sugar strung from the kitchen, to the living room, all over the couches, the floor, the tables, in the bedroom…and paw prints all though it.

    Took us forever to clean that mess up. 😉

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