Ask Maddie: Advice for Dogs – The Christmas Sweater

maddie-newPost #2: The Christmas Sweater

Dear Maddie,

Q1: There’s been a lot of noise around the house. A tree without a smell came out of a box and even has lights. I don’t like the dark, but these lights make it hard to nap. My question, however, is about a little sweater that they make such a fuss about. It’s green and red and everyone says I look so cute in it. My friends laugh a little when they see me in it. What gives?

A1: Well, I wanted you to feel in good company, so here’s a picture of me in my Xmas sweater. I’ve had it about five years now. Ever since my owners keep me trimmed up with an electric buzzing device, I get cold this time of year. Once you get past having something binding you, the warmth might win you over. Have you ever hosted a canine sweater soiree? They’re trending now.

Q2: This is a tough time of the year to keep control of myself. The wrapped packages look as if they’d like a little nibble, and the ornaments would be fun to catch. The temptation is unbearable. Last year they closed me in the bathroom just when I let my inner dog loose.

 A2: Haven’t you learned yet that some good things are better left undone? These thoughts of tearing paper, tossing ornaments and tasting tree boughs shouldn’t be repressed entirely. Look forward to a little doggie daydreaming and try to be satisfied when they toss you a small piece of poultry after dinner. If that doesn’t work, remember how cold that bathroom tile floor is.

Author’s note: Maddie is my daughter’s little Dorkie, and lives in Charlotte, NC. We raised her from a puppy.

Epiphany (peanut butter Sunday)

EPSON scanner image

One of the things I loved the most about our church in New Jersey was how simplified the lessons were in the family services. Children were the intended target for the messages, but adults learned memorable lessons as well.

Take peanut butter Sunday. Some called it Epiphany. In the Anglican faith, the twelve days of Christmas culminate with Epiphany. This is the traditional day to celebrate the arrival of the three kings to witness Jesus’ birth and to bring presents.

In our Episcopal church, the children were asked to bring peanut butter from home for their gift to Christ. Next to the manger with the baby Jesus figure, jar after jar was brought forward to the altar by young children old enough to carry them. The gifts were for donation to the local food bank after the service.

I’ve often wondered if the children remember that ritual on the final day of Christmastide. Personally, it makes me want to commemorate the day now by eating something with peanut butter! Do you see how strong association and memories can be?

Our culture is pretty quick to dismantle decorations and remembrances of Christmas after December 25. We were invited to savor the 12 days and the season. I’m really trying still by walking the neighborhoods to see the light displays and still playing holiday music.

In memory of this tradition in our church, this cartoon depicts what could have happened at the altar with the innocence of a young child in mind.

The farm animals and Christmas eve

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Four friends sat underneath the Christmas tree in the late hours of Christmas eve. Colored lights and glass ornaments gave a warm glow to the room. On the boxes, and in sight of the Christmas stockings, sat a donkey, a cow, a pig and a frog.

You may have guessed that these friends were of the stuffed variety. They were born one by one by the hands of the mother of the house. Four young children were asleep in their beds, with no idea at all how clever and loving their mother was. Each animal was uniquely made, but in a similar style.

All animals were made of soft corduroy and had yarn-braided arms and legs. Their faces had felt pieces affixed to their heads, and some had ears. The donkey was a soft grey with black yarn. The cow was a medium brown with slightly darker arms and legs. The pig was a medium pink, and the frog had a color reminiscent of our familiar friend Kermit. They were proud of how clean they were and how fresh they felt.

Each of them wondered just how their lives would go. The donkey hoped that he could spend a little time on someone’s windowsill to see what goes on out of doors. The pig wondered if there would be any mud patches to roll his body around in. The frog, of course, hoped for a pool of water less dangerous than the toilet bowl. Now the cow wondered just what value he held, but mostly he wanted to be held. He was anxious to be gifted to a young boy or girl who would carry him on new adventures.

The pig tried to climb onto the package next to him. The frog leaped and tried to jump onto the mantel by the stockings. The cow told them that they had better keep a bit quiet so that the children did not wake up. Besides, Santa would not arrive and bring the other gifts for the children if they were too noisy. He might think the children were playing.

It was a long night for the animals. After playing, they laid down to rest and, apparently slept through Santa’s visit! His cookies and milk were gone, and none of the animals had dared touch them. The sounds of opening doors and shuffling feet approaching got the farm friends excited. It was going to be a great new life.