The Christmas spirit


by Frances Edstrom

An e-mail came to the office the other day. It said it was from me, but I didn't remember writing to myself (of course what I do manage to remember is becoming harder to track these days).

Oh, I thought, it must be from John. But when I read the salutation, "Dear Meanie," I didn't think that sounded like John.

I scrolled to the bottom and there it was, the sender was the-dog-who-must-not-be-written-about.


"Dear Meanie," it started, probably because I had recently given him a talking-to about barking. Some barking is fine, such as that directed towards the malamute and the cat who likes to sit on the other side of the fence and do her toilet while driving the dog crazy. Other barking, such as at men cleaning snow off their cars or the UPS man is not allowed.

The letter continued, "In order to prevent a disaster like last year's""

Oh, boy, here we go.

""when on Christmas Day I found nothing but a couple of rawhide bones in my stocking""

Wait a minute! I thought. First of all, I was laid up and couldn't shop, and second of all, I distinctly remember giving him a new bed cover (not that he needs it, since he sneaks onto the couch at every opportunity).

"Oh, yeah," the letter went on, "I suppose you think a new bed cover should be considered a present, but believe me, it is the equivalent of new socks or a toothbrush."

I wasn't liking the tone of his letter.

"So, I have attached a list of items that will be well-received, and another list of items which may well precipitate a search on my part for new housing arrangements."

Hmmph! I'll give you new housing arrangements out in the hunting dog compound, you ungrateful cur!

I opened the list of acceptable gifts. Here they are:

1. Spa day

2. Cheese of the month from Harry and David

3. Gift certificates for the meat counter of each local grocery store

4. New couch

5. Letter to animal control about the Orange Cat

6. Steps to get into the car

7. MP3 player with downloads of A Dog's Christmas by The Dogs (the original, not a cover)

8. My own computer

9. Expanded animal channel access

10. A baby brother (purebred)

Talk about presumptuous!

Now the list of unacceptable gifts:

1. Collar or neck kerchief

2. Leash

3. Bones with no meat

4. Boots

5. Jacket!!!!!!

6. New cover for the dog bed

7. New dog bed (unless it's the kind that is a miniature couch)

8. Stupid dog Christmas outfits, including reindeer antlers or Santa Claws hat

9. Chew toys that look like candy canes. The dye gets on my mustache

10. Stupid dog bowls or for heaven's sake a dog placemat

Hmm, I thought, should I print this out, or pretend it got lost in cyberspace. This dog seems to have missed his dose of Christmas Spirit. Perhaps tonight I'll read to him from A Child's Christmas in Wales"no, wait"I'll write him a story of his very own. How about A Dog's Christmas in Turkey, or The Littlest Airedale, or better yet, The Gift of the Mastiff.

Yes, he just needs a reminder. I'm sure he'll come to realize that the message of the holiday is to "Love One Another," not "Demand Outrageously Expensive Gifts."


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