Christmastime Is Here

Every year, the dog tried it. Sometimes they watched the film before the trip, sometimes after, but it didn’t matter at this point. He was an old dog, and he knew that movie by heart.

He had never been able to glide like a beagle, though. No matter how hard he studied the film on screen or in his mind, he could not master the iced-over pond. The black and white son of a bitch inside his television set was like nothing our hero had seen in life. Our hero knew that it must be some sort of dark magic, perhaps conjured by those devious yellow birds that the beagle palled around with instead of hunting. No mutt on Earth could glide on two feet for as long as that beagle did. No one. It just wasn’t possible.

And yet, our hero tried and tried and tried again.

This year, as he walked his pets to the pond—the man and the woman and their pup, who had just begun to walk on two legs instead of four—he hoped against hope that some yellow bird magic might find its way to him. His tail wasn’t wagging like it used to, after all. There were only so many winters left for our old pal.

As his pets strapped skates onto their pup’s feet and then onto their own, our hero tapped a paw against the hard water. Then he sniffed it to make sure it was safe. And, finally, finding himself satisfied, he turned his head back toward his pets and gave them a bark to let them know it was all clear.

They let him off his leash and he scurried onto the pond, slipping and sliding until he was face down as per usual. He tried a second time and skidded nose-first into a snow bank. And then, just as he was about try for a third, he saw his pets’ pup sailing toward him, on its own, a shit-eating grin on its face, its parents trailing anxiously behind.

Our hero skittered up onto all fours, his claws grasping for traction; then, he reached up with his front legs to steady the pup as it approached. Our hero knew his back might regret this when the pup toppled them both over, but he had to try.

And that was when it happened. Our hero and the child of his pets met, paws and hands on each other’s shoulders. And, for a miraculous second, they danced on that ice like the children and the beagle in the film. And, in that second, our hero realized that it was not the demonic yellow birds who had given the magic to the beagle. It was the children, always the children.

Then the two of them toppled over in a mess of tangled limbs and tortured yelps. And his back did hate him for it. But it was worth it. Totally freaking worth it.

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