A Dog, A Rabbit And The Star Of Bethlehem

“It came without ribbons,It came without tags,

It came without packages, boxes, or bags.

Christmas can’t be bought from a store…

Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”

[Dr. Seuss]

There are days so full of life, so pure, so earthy and so wonderfully twisted, that one can’t help but live them.

Not a chance of being nostalgic, no time for reminiscing or hoping for a change, not a second left for being anywhere but the present.

To tell you all what happened this christmas eve would make for a longer post than my hung over head can manage.

But this little tale for me sums up the beauty of life at its most random and absurd.

My future brother-in-law and myself took “Arthos”, the trusted family dog, for a walk, while the wonderful man in life and his mother prepared dinner, decorated the tree and all in all merried the house with christmas spirit.

As we walked on the boarders of the Rhine in the frosty air, two bundled figures, one short, one tall and a black dog, we came across an old lady with her Collie. The Collie was proudly carrying a gnawed and muddy, once yellow, tennis ball in her snout. When she saw us (the dog not the lady), she dropped the ball to greet our black labrador-german shepherd mix, who immediately leaped for the ball.

Now, if you have dogs or know somebody who has dogs or have ever been around a dog in your life, you will know that sweetest dog is somewhat selfish and not very giving when it comes to their treasured toys. This sweet Collie, however, did not pursue the sneaky black thief, but let him leave with the ball. What a wonderful christmas gesture!

With our hearts filled with this selfless act of christmas, we thought we should in return also grant our dog a little christmas miracle of letting him run free without a leash.

After being set free, he immediately hurried down to the boarders of the Rhine and started digging in a to me unknown frenzy. He discarded his new tennis ball and reapeared with a rabbit in his snout, which he processed to devour. None of our pleas or commands could distract him from this feast he had hunted and killed. The yellow tennis ball was forgotten – another known fact of christmas: How easily we come to trade one gift for the next one.

After a while in which our feet, hands and noses turned to ice cubes and the sky changed from a darker shade of grey into the blueish black of night, we finally recaptured our dog, who once again had lost interest in the remains of the rabbit, and hurried on home wards to our christmas awaiting us.

Shortly after we arrived, after we had gotten a chance to admire the tree in all it’s splendour and savour the smells that filled the air, but before we could settle down with a hot tea and absent mindedly listen to some christmas tunes, all the while nibbling on some christmas cookies, the dog started gulping noisily and heaving and sure enough disposed of the remains of his kill on the rug in front of the tree.

While the men fled the scene under the pretense of taking the dog outside for a fresh breath of air, the women of the household disposed of the mess and scrubbed the rug.

In the midst of regaining the spirit of christmas, we heard our names called loudly from outside and we abandoned the cleaning detergent and scrubbing-brush to hurry outside.

Standing on the front door steps, shivering in the icy cold we saw a golden light streak across the heavens, bursting into four pieces and then disappearing into the dark night.

As we stood in awe, staring at the slowly disappearing golden glimmer above, I thought about the original wonder of christmas and the boy born in a manger and star of Bethlehem leading the way.

To me this is the true spirit of Christmas, a shivering family huddling together awed and frightened staring at the night sky on christmas eve.

And all it takes is a poor rabbit and a naughty dog.

Merry Christmas!

Life Lesson Learned: Foolish Pride Makes For Lonely Christmas (And A Headache)

” The best Christmas of all

is the presence of a happy family

all wrapped up with one another”

[Unknown or at least unmentioned on my favourite quote page]

I wasn’t planning on writing a christmas post this morning. I was planning on being extra-good (the kind of good that you believe gets you extra loot under the christmas tree) meaning studying.

I really, really was.

But then two things happened:

  1. I woke up and remembered, that I had “tired-commented” on the lovely Miss von Furstenburgs post (Tired commenting to me is the equivalent of drunk-dialing w/o a phone and minus the off-chance that you would have the good fortune of forgetting all about it the next morning.) In any case, I checked back to see how much of a fool I actually made of myself last night and was immediately side-tracked by her new “Liebster Blog Award” Acceptance Post ( yes, I guess I am one of those “ohhhh, shiny object” – people). So, curious as I was, I immediately took to checking out the new nominees… .
  2. This is when the second thing happened: All of them had christmas posts up (duh?!) and one of those posts which I love-adore-am infatuated with was quick one-way-nostalgia-ticket off to childhood christmas in the 80s – yay!

All of the above had me thinking of Christmas’-past and there is one Christmas that especially comes to mind.

- not!

You see, my father and I had this special christmas tradition of cleaning to house to an immaculate shine on the 23rd, then grabbing all the Christmas gifts for our family in the US, flinging them into the trunk of the car along with an overnight bag and making our way to my grandparents in Baden-Wuerttemberg (the state just north of Bavaria) with a quick stop along the way to mail the US-headed Christmas gifts.

On a side-note: I actually do believe that my cousins got a kick about opening christmas presents in march – april, well at least I hope they did because that’s how long it usually took them to get there: Right in time for easter!

Obviously all of this last-minute-christmas-activity usually resulted in one or the other quarrel between my dear ol’ dad and me – usually about something vital like if the living room floor had been properly vacuumed or needed a doe-over.

"Through the black forest and across the bridge to grandmothers house we go"

Usually, it was not a big though, because the minute we hit the free-way everything was forgotten listening to rock christmas songs on the radio and dreaming of my grandmother’s divine baked christmas goods (All praise be to the healing effect of the german “Autobahn” on Christmas!)

Except for this one year… .

Admittedly, the details are blurry. I am not even sure what year it was. My guess is I was 16 (but I might have been 17) and I had reached the eclipse of my good-girls-gone-bad-phase and we argued about something.

In all honesty, I can’t even remember what we argued about, but at that time it seemed like more than the usual  pre road trip bitchiness, so when my father told me to get in the car, I refused.

I remember looking at him and telling him, that I was “sooo over” this “Christmas – phoniness of having to be all forgiveness and smiles just because it was the 23rd of december, what is a date anyways?!”

My father tried to persuade me to swallow my pride, quit being a self-indulgent brat and get into the car, but in the end it got later and later while I was self-righteously sulking away in my bed-room and finally he just left.

The first couple of hours were a feeling of utmost triumph and exhilaration: I had won an important battle! I had stood my ground! Finally, he would have to accept me as an equal adult and not just a little girl he could boss around!

I celebrated this with loads of christmas candy and even more christmas TV. It was christmas and heaven on earth to me.

Slowly it got darker outside and when I looked out of the window I could see the faint glow of light christmas trees in other people’s houses. We, obviously, hadn’t put up a christmas tree, because we weren’t planning on being at home for christmas.

The excitement started to ware off.

I decided to bundle up and go to christmas Mass at our church, thinking that following religious christmas rituals would give me a sense of warmth and belonging and all in all just the spirit of christmas.

The church didn’t help. Actually it made things worse. It wasn’t the sermon or the people there, everything was lovely and peaceful and the people were joyous. Standing there in the middle of the church I suddenly realized that I was the only one there that was all alone on Christmas Eve’.

All

Alone

On

Christmas

Eve… .

As the words sunk in (each one pronounced like its own sentence by that little voice inside my head), I was ready to cry. I didn’t feel “all grown up” anymore. I felt small and scared and lonely. I wanted nothing more than to be with my father and my grandparents, curled up in blankets, sipping a hot cup of cocoa and munching on some special christmas cookies.

So I fled the church back home.

There I waited for something to happen. My father to miraculously come back. My grandparents to call and to order me on the next train down to them.

Nothing happened. No one called. No one ever called our house on christmas because we were never there.

So in the end, adding stupid decision onto to stupid decision, I raided my dad’s bar.

I think I downed half a bottle of Bailey’s coffee cream, before the world started to spin before my eyes and the gooey – sweetness of the liquor made me horribly sick.

I don’t remember much after that.

I do remember waking up on christmas morning on the cold bathroom floor with a splitting head ache and an awful taste in my mouth.

I distinctly remember lying there thinking that I would trade all the presents in the world just to be with my family.

I remember picturing them at the breakfast table, cheerful, clad in sickening-sweet christmas sweaters, just celebrating the wonders of christmas and the privilege of having one another.

Later that day my father and my grandparents called to wish me a merry christmas and see how I was doing.

I didn’t mention any of the above, I never did.

I feigned high spirits and maybe even a bit of annoyance regarding their disturbance of my peace and serenity. I’m not sure why, but my guess is (and that’s a pretty safe guess) it was pure juvenile pride that kept me from coming clean.

However, when my father returned the next day, I didn’t really care for the gifts he was bringing home.

All I cared about was a long, long hug: And I got it!