It wasn’t a conscious decision to tread a heavy path winding up to Christmas Day. A dark cloud drifted menacingly to and fro, intermittently dampening the rays of joyful anticipation as Christmas Day approached. Not constant. Just a dim, persistent recollection of so many Christmases past dimming the light. I didn’t pay it much heed. I understood its genesis in the deep rooted power of emotional memory fuelled by fatigue and stress. It would soon pass.
I reminded myself of happy Christmas events in an attempt to scatter the impending clouds.
There’s a ray of sunshine that never dims. A silky, furred angel who warms my heart and widens my smile. Daily. Enough to drive any cloud away.
And so it was on Christmas Day, my angel and I celebrated Christmas together – chauffeured and welcomed to festivities in a house that delegates dogs to the outdoors. Special dispensation was given for my angel with paws to stay inside.
That was the first kindness.
Like all good angels secretly walking among us, mine understood the enormity of the exception made on her behalf and quietly surveyed celebrations from her bed or unobtrusively mingled around guests. Except the turkey! She investigated to within a millimetre but, thankfully, resisted the earthly drive of the body she inhabited to taste or devour it.
Then my angel revealed her fallibility. The sound of Christmas crackers exploded one after the other like gunshots. She left her bed to seek solace at the dining table between me and the man of the house. I tried to guide her to my side but she stayed firmly wedged between us. He paused from eating, looked down and discouraged my attempts to remove her. She promptly lay her head on his lap. One hand left its task of negotiating a plate of food to rest gently on her neck while his remaining hand now did the job of two.
“It’s OK. She’s scared of the crackers. I can feel her flinch at the sound.”
And that’s where she stayed, resting her head on the knees of a man who prefers dogs outdoors.
That was the second kindness.
A few minutes later, no more crackers to be heard, she felt comforted and returned to her bed for her own Christmas dinner.
I doubt if he realized the power of his actions. I wanted to explain to him how soothing it would have felt to Zuri. What it meant to me. How his quiet acceptance of her inside and then intruding on his space at the table was a reassuring hug. A message, “See? Christmas really is OK.” A dark cloud was dissipated completely by a kindness shown to my dog: Because a kindness to my dog is also a kindness to me.