Well, this is not so much a CHRISTMAS story but it is my Christmas gift to all of you. However, the tale takes place just before Thanksgiving, and it’s based on a true event, something that happened to a friend of mine. I thought it was hilarious, and whether you own a dog or not, you might enjoy this tale as well.
Just Your Typical Thanksgiving
by JM Bolton
“Well, I should have known it was going to be another one of those memorable holidays when the turkey arrived,” she said into the telephone receiver. She was sitting out on the patio, a glass of ice tea sweating on the glass tabletop.
As usual I was eavesdropping. Since no one talks to me very much, this is the only way I have of finding out what’s going on.
“What?” she said into the phone. “No, we didn’t order it. The dog brought it.
“Yeah, that’s right, the dog.” Her voice vibrated with laughter.
“No, he’s our dog,” she told her caller.
“Of course he’s big. Ninety-pound black Lab. I guess he picked it off someone’s back porch.
“How do I know why it was there? It was frozen solid, so they probably left it out to thaw.
“No, there were no tooth marks in it. It was still in the plastic wrapping.”
If you want the real story, I got the turkey out of a refrigerated delivery truck parked behind the Winn Dixie Supermarket. And let me tell you, that took some doing! In fact, for a minute there I was in big trouble when the driver suddenly came back out for another load. But thank heavens, he didn’t see me. I hid under a shelf of petrified buffalo wings until he unloaded another tray of frozen birds for the store. Thank The Great Pooch he’s lazy and left the door propped open or I would have your original pupcicle. As it was, I had only enough time to pick out a nice big turkey and be on my way.
Now before you go accusing me of stealing, it was no such thing … well, okay, maybe it was, but can you see me trying to pay the driver for a turkey? Hel-lo! I would have been slapped in the pound before you could say “stray dog.” People can be so stupid sometimes. And forget going in the store to buy one … give me a break. Dogs, other than service animals, aren’t allowed inside. It says so on the door. This prejudice is because they think we’re dirty. Don’t know why, since they admit human children. Talk about filthy hands and germs!
Oh, well, no one ever said humans were logical. Right?
Where was I?
Oh, yeah, the turkey …
Our house is in a rural area, and the trek to the grocery store and back took me hours. It would have been longer, but I know some shortcuts through the woods. I had to go at night, and it was morning before I finally got home. I dropped the frozen bird, wrapped and protected in one of those net bags, right at Her feet, expecting some thanks, but what did I get? She called me a bad dog, even though she was laughing. Called everyone else out to see what I’d brought home like it was all some kind of cute trick. Her husband grunted and went back to his paper. At least the kids thought it was cool. I’m glad someone appreciated my efforts. The things I do for this family!
Anyway, She asked a couple of the neighbors if they were missing a turkey. For a minute there, I thought one of them was going to claim it and I’d have to bite him, but I stood behind her and showed him my teeth, and he got the message. She even put an ad in the local paper and posted a notice at the feed store, but no luck.
Gee, I wonder why!
Took about a week before She finally decided it would be a waste not to cook it.
Now, Thanksgiving is my favorite human holiday. (And you thought dogs didn’t notice such things!) Our house is a big old colonial farmhouse, and everyone drives out here from the city for dinner. They think it’s quaint and picturesque.
But so many people means lots of food, and even more important, lots of leftovers and such for moi … turkey drippings … crisp chunks of skin … not to mention the bits and pieces that get passed under the table. Yum! I can taste it already.
And the entertainment is almost as good. People watching is one of my favorite sports, and this family is definitely worth a good laugh or two. I listen and pay attention to everything. That’s how I know so much.
Take Uncle Hugh … at least that’s what they call him. I once heard Her say that he was her mother’s father’s sister’s son. It’s a bit confusing, but I don’t think it’s terribly important, because no matter how distant the relationship, he’s a fixture. He shows up at every family event—funerals, weddings, Thanksgiving dinner. And I know he isn’t invited, either, because I’m in the room with Her when She’s calling the people on Her guest list. I suspect he has some kind of sixth sense, so he knows whenever there’s a gathering.
Anyway, Uncle Hugh’s a cigar smoker. He and his wife Marie go everywhere surrounded by this miasma of stogy incense. They’re not into dogs very much either, which is just fine with me. The cigar smoke thing is enough to keep me as far away from them as possible.
Their daughter, Susannah, however, is an interesting human. She goes through phases, and every time she comes here, she’s adopted something new. She usually brings her latest boyfriend— that’s the only way Hugh and Marie can get her to come at all—and he’s always a reflection of whatever she’s currently into. Last year it was Goth—black clothing, studs, and piercings— the pair of them looked like members of some head-banger band. That definitely livened up this group of middle-class yuppies, and especially Bev.
I think Bev is Her second cousin. She was “Born Again” about five years ago when she accidentally wandered into a tent revival thinking it was an antique auction. Since then, she’s apparently become the family conscience. She’s convinced everyone is going straight to hell unless she can reform them in time. You’d think by now she’d realize it was a lost cause, but she’s nothing if not persistent.
Susannah, with her affectations, is a perfect focus for Bev’s attention, except that this year there wasn’t much to complain about. Suddenly Susannah’s out of high school and into college. Her new maturity was reflected in her unusually sedate clothing and hairstyle. I heard someone mention that Susannah is pre-med, whatever that means. Her boyfriend this year is a tall scrawny kid called Hooker. He’s an older student, and actually in medical school, which had some interesting ramifications when Cousin Bert collapsed face down in a bowl of mashed potatoes.
No one thought it was necessary to tell Hooker about Cousin Bert. I mean, we’re accustomed to him, and no one thinks anything of it when he suddenly goes to sleep in the middle of a sentence. He’s what they call a narcoleptic. But this time, when he suddenly woke up with Hooker giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, you can bet we had a fight on our hands. It all happened really fast. I must say, Hooker has excellent reflexes for a human. As soon as Bert collapsed, Hooker had him flat on the floor, all the while shouting for someone to call 911, as he prepared to revive his patient. The rest of the family stared in shock, never having seen this kind of reaction before, until Berty woke and started swinging. I guess he thought he was being assaulted.
That’s when everyone else started yelling and jumping around. It was great. I took advantage of the confusion and managed to gulp down half a bowl of dressing. Then I grabbed a turkey leg and thigh when someone bumped into the table and knocked Uncle Hugh’s plate on the floor.
I’m not really sure how that incident was resolved since I retired to my bed on the back porch to consume my own dinner in peace.
And those are just some of the people who showed up for Thanksgiving. No need to go into all the rest. I’m sure you have similar characters in your family. But I did get my kibble that night drenched in warm turkey drippings. She always keeps the rest in the fridge for me, and I can feast like this for at least a week. So, the long trip to the grocery store was worth it.
Now, I wonder where I can find a nice ham for Christmas …