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Presents and puzzles and puppies, oh my!

The Mister and I do not exchange gifts at Christmas. We did it once, the first year we were married, but it felt strange, like we were kinda missing the point somehow. Don’t get us wrong – we enjoy receiving gifts and love giving them, but between us our gift-giving is the keeping of traditions – watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, attending Christmas Eve services, and afterward going for a drive through the neighbourhood to look at the lights. Once home, we open whatever presents are under the tree, listen to a little Christmas music, and turn in. The next day we sleep late, have gummy bear pancakes for breakfast (of late, we’ve been substituting fruit for the gummy bears), and watch schmaltzy movies until suppertime when we enjoy Cornish hens with all the fixin’s. Very quiet, low key, and restful.

This last week though, we’ve been deluged with presents and mysteries. First came a gorgeous picture jasper necklace from one of my Yaya sisters. I belong to an online group of five women dedicated to spiritual growth, positive thought and action, and mutual encouragement. And it just so happens, we love each other to bits. Our official name is The Positive Revolution Group, but early on, we started calling ourselves the Yaya Sisters and it’s stuck. This group of women is one of the greatest joys of my life and I am so grateful for whatever convoluted path brought me to them. Anyhoo, our dear sister Cinda took two months to make us all necklaces, each with a different stone which she thought mirrored our spirit. As I said, mine is the picture jasper, and there couldn’t be a better choice for me. (More on that in a later post.) I looked across the table to The Mister, held it out to him and said, “I wish she were here in person so I could thank her properly.”

At that exact moment, there was a knock at the front door.

The Mister and I stared at each other, frozen. Knowing she lives in Nova Scotia, The Mister did some quick cipherin’ and said, “Well, if she left on Monday, that could be her.”

“Don’t just sit there! Go answer the door and find out!”

It was the florist with a beautiful Christmas centrepiece – a first for us. Our table is so small, we had to clear off a shelf and relocate the toaster just to make room. Come to find out, it was from my youngest sister and her husband. We’re still delighted every time we enter the kitchen.

It was Thursday, and we were giving a performance of our Christmas Cantata at 7 pm. so we sat down to an early supper when there’s another knock on the front door.

“We haven’t had this many visitors since…well…we’ve NEVER had this many visitors!”

The Mister opened the door again, and there was the UPS man with a HUGE box. He apologized for interrupting our meal.

“Oh no, don’t worry,” I assured him. “Santa’s Little Helpers can interrupt us anytime!” He smiled at that, wished us a Merry Christmas and went on his way to spread some more yuletide cheer.

“Who’s it from?” I asked getting up from the table as The Mister awkwardly eased the box to the floor in front of the tree. It was too large to fit under.

“Doesn’t say,” he replied.

“There’s no return address?”

“Nope.”

“Huh. Who’s it to?”

He checked the label.

“Me.”

“Oh. Let’s open it!”

He turned his head slowly in my direction and raised an eyebrow as if I’d just questioned the existence of Santa Claus…which I don’t, by the way.

“No. We’ll open it Christmas Eve, like we always do.”

“But Pa,” I said, reaching my arms across the box in supplication, “that’s six days from now!”

“The way you calculated that in your head, hard to believe you failed Grade 10 math…twice.”

I could tell this tack wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go, so I grabbed his arm with great urgency and cried, “But what if it’s puppies!”

His jaw moved sideways.

“What?” he asked.

“Puppies, Pa! What if someone sent us puppies for Christmas?”

He shook his head.

“It’s probably from Don and Rumi (his son and daughter-in-law in British Columbia), and they would never send us puppies knowing your allergies.”

“I am not allergic to puppies!”

The eyebrow arched again. “Oh please! An extra hairy caterpillar can give you a reaction. Besides, you can’t send puppies UPS.”

“You can’t?”

“Well, you shouldn’t. Now, let’s finish up supper and get on down to the church.”

“Wait! Did you hear that?”

“What?”

I pressed my ear to the box. “It sounds like breathing. Or maybe whimpering.” I traced circles on the top of the box while I slowly raised my eyes to his. “You know, that ‘hmm, hmm’ whiney kinda sound little baby puppies make when they’re in distress…”

“Not buying it. And we’re not opening the box ’til Christmas Eve.”

“Oh fine!”

We finished our supper, performed a great Cantata which I understand will soon be coming to a YouTube near you, and returned home. When we walked in, The Mister turned on the lights and said, “All’s quiet.”

“Well, of course it is. The puppies are all dead by now.”

“Missus…come on!”

“Tell you what, Pa. Let me just open the box. If I see wrapping paper, we’ll put the gifts under the tree. If not, I’ll close the box after the briefest peek, and not bug you about it ’til Christmas Eve.”

“Weeelll…OK. But, the briefest of peeks.”

“Yay!” I slit open the tape, opened up the flaps and…

“Any Christmas wrapping paper?”

“No,” I said, folding it over again.

“Did you see what it is?”

“Some colour, but nothing more.”

“That’s it, then.”

Later that night, I was almost asleep when The Mister suddenly sat bolt upright beside me.

“Did you hear that?”

“What!” I said in a fierce whisper, heart pounding.

“Sounded like…whimpering!”

“Whim…”

“Like a ‘hmm hmm’ whiney kind of sound.”

“One more word and you are SO sleeping on the couch.”

“No, I mean it. I think there’s a puppy in distress.”

“Forget the couch. You’re sleeping outside.”

“Oh Missus! Don’t make this poor puppy sleep outside!”

The wait comes to an end tomorrow night, but the teasing?

I’m not hopeful.

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