Christmas in July
A Warm Fuzzy Christmas
by Lisa Reifsnider
Their little house that had once been an epicenter of activity was now empty except for the two of them. Misa and Jim had been married for 47 years. Raised two children and had a number of animals, mostly dogs and cats. Misa was a dog person while Jim was a cat person, somehow they made it work.
After the kids had graduated and the last of the family animals had passed, Misa and Jim were free to travel the world. Once they both retired, they traveled even more. A fall brought all that to a screeching halt. They were in Tokyo when Jim fell and broke his arm. Medical care in Japan was excellent but upon their return it was agreed they should slow down, and stay closer to home.
Now the debate was on; should they get a cat or a dog.
The kids were coming home for Christmas. Carrie and Benjamin had not spoken in years. As children they got along splendidly. But as adults, they had little in common. They lived in separate places and had grown apart over the years. This would be the first Christmas the family would be all together in a decade.
Carrie was a rising star in a jewelry company. She worked long hours but loved her job. The urban living agreed with her. She lived in a high rise apartment above the hustle and bustle of a busy city. Benjamin was an up and coming welder in a large construction company. The higher the building, the better for Benjamin. He left the city behind at the end of the day for his 5-acre piece of heaven in the country.
Carrie had talked to Misa several times regarding specific plans for Christmas. None of them did presents anymore but Carrie was determined to do something special this year.
“Come on Mom, there has to be something special I can get Dad?”
“Well, rehabbing the arm has been hard on your Father. A kitten would really make him feel better” Misa admitted.
“Really?” asked Carrie
“Yes, we have been talking about getting another pet, but the debate has continued between a dog or a cat. I think a cat would cheer him right up. We can get a dog next time.”
“Why not both?” replied Carrie.
“I just don’t think we are ready for both,” answered Misa.
It was decided. A Christmas kitten would be the perfect present for Jim.
At the same time, unbeknownst to the girls; Benjamin was talking to Jim. The decision not to travel had weighed heavy on Misa. Jim really wanted to do something special for her.
“I know a puppy will cheer her right up. Give her a reason to sit outside or go for long walks,” Jim said to Benjamin.
“Perfect, another Dachshund? Or something bigger like a Labrador?” asked Benjamin.
“Something small she can take everywhere. She will love the constant companionship and portability like Dixie had been while you kids were growing up. She enjoyed taking that dog to every soccer and baseball game.”
It was all decided.
Carrie knew she should talk to her brother Benjamin before purchasing anything, but communication was not easy. Between her busy schedule and his challenging job locations, they kept missing calls from the other in what would become an epic game of phone tag.
Carrie entered the shelter the day before Christmas and it didn’t take long to find the perfect kitten. A 5 month old Calico that had been overlooked for a while. Walking out to speak to the adoption coordinator, she spied a 1 year old cream colored miniature Dachshund that was too fuzzy and cute to ignore. Instantly she thought, why not get Mom and Dad what they both want?
At the same time, Benjamin was also visiting a shelter. It didn’t take long for him to find an adorable miniature Dachshund, this one was a long-haired miniature red about 2 years old. Before Benjamin made it out of the kennel, he spotted a gorgeous 6 month old Siamese kitten with very captivating blue eyes. He couldn’t resist. The kitten would be perfect for his father, who could also use a pick me up, for he felt responsible for the change in lifestyle.
With animals in tow, the kids headed for their childhood home. Benjamin tried to get in touch with Carrie one last time but as before it went straight to voicemail.
It was late when Carrie arrived. She left everything in the car to make sure the coast was clear. She ran into her father in the hallway, “Oh! Hi Dad” she said nervously.
“Did you just get in?” he asked.
“Yep,” she said, “traffic was worse than I thought it would be. I’m just going to unpack and head to bed.”
“Ok, love you and see you bright and early in the morning.”
“Love you too Dad.” She lovingly kissed him on the forehead. She dropped her handbag in her old room and snuck back out to the car for the little bundles. They were curled up together in a basket sleeping soundly.
About a half an hour later, Benjamin arrived at the house. The same scene took place only this time with Misa: “Oh! Hi Mom” Benjamin said a little startled.
“Are you just getting here??” she asked.
“Yep,” he said, “I had to finish a few things before I left. Now I’m just going to unpack and head to bed.”
“Ok, love you, Merry Christmas. See you in the morning.”
“Love you too Mom, Merry Christmas too.” He gave her a huge hug and quick kiss on her cheek. He quietly dropped off his stuff into his old room across the hall from Carrie’s and snuck back out to his truck for his surprises. They were curled up in a big brightly colored box sleeping soundly.
Sometime in the middle of the night Carrie wandered into the little kitchen looking for some water. She found Benjamin already sitting at the small breakfast table with a glass of cold milk. There was an exchange of small talk, but before the conversation could get really good they went back to bed because it was Christmas and there would be no sleeping in.
Christmas morning arrived! Everyone was excited to finally be together. Jim awoke early in order to begin his exercises for his arm. Misa was making coffee. Carrie emerged from her room tired but excited and ready for some gift giving. She ran into Benjamin in the hall. They hugged and realized each independently[j1] how much they had missed each other. Despite being busy, they really should have made some time for each other.
Carrie and Benjamin emerged from the hallway and noticed the little house had been decorated in exactly same way it had been for every Christmas when they were kids. From the Christmas tree weighed down with hundreds of ornaments, down to the little Christmas village on the sideboard, not to mention garland and tinsel everywhere. Both exclaimed “Merry Christmas” as they came into the kitchen. Everyone hugged while it took about 5 minutes to catch up completely.
It was about midway through the first cup of coffee when they heard the commotion. There was a crashing sound from one of the bedrooms. Misa looked at Carrie while Jim looked at Benjamin and they all ran for the hallway. Carrie opened her door to find the Calico and the Cream Dachshund running and playing around her room. They had knocked over the lamp on her desk. The Calico spied the open door and made a break for it. Benjamin opened his door and found a similar amount of chaos in his room. Everyone had escaped from their respective containers and was running and playing. Those with four legs had made it into the living room; running around barking, growling, hissing or meowing, although all playful, it was very loud. Suddenly, Misa broke out into a fit of infectious laughter that quickly spread to all the humans in the room.
“This is going to be a full house!” exclaimed Misa.
“Full of poop and fur,” lamented Jim.
“What were you thinking,” said Misa and Jim together. They looked at the kid they had conspired with and said “you were only supposed to get the…” then they looked at each other and laughed some more.
Luckily there were plenty of toys for all. The shelters had provided some toys for the puppies and kittens knowing that they were Christmas gifts. Jim also managed to sneak in some dog toys knowing Misa was getting a dog from Benjamin. Misa had found an adorable collection of toy mice she knew would be perfect for the kitten Carrie was getting for Jim. It was amazing how well all the animals were getting along.
Finally, deep into the afternoon, everyone was played out. Puppies and kittens were sprawled out all over the living room sleeping. A discussion began amongst the humans about how to handle the situation. Jim and Misa agreed keeping all four animals would be challenging, but returning anyone wasn’t going to work either. But what to do about the extras? And which ones were extras?
Looking around the living room, Misa noticed the Siamese curled up on Carrie’s lap sound asleep. The Cream Dachshund had found Benjamin’s foot and draped herself across his boot. The scene gave Misa an idea: Jim would keep the Calico, since Carrie and Misa conspired together to get Jim the cat. Misa would keep the Red Dachshund from Benjamin and Jim for the same reason. Carrie lived in an apartment that could easily accommodate the Siamese plus they had really bonded all day. The Cream Dachshund had really taken to Benjamin. He could always use a dog out in the country, especially one that could keep gophers out of the yard.
Over Christmas dinner, Misa proposed her idea to the family. Big smiles broke out on all the faces, some would say even on the animals. Benjamin pulled back from the table, found what was now going to be his dog and swept her up into his arms in a big hug. Jim added that Carrie and Benjamin should bring their Siamese and Cream Dachshund for family gatherings. They could all be together throughout the year and keep the magical feeling of this Christmas day.
Days later when it came time for Carrie and Benjamin to go back to their busy lives, they found it difficult to say goodbye. They promised each other (and their mother) they would keep in touch, and not let their jobs overshadow the importance of family. They would certainly have plenty of things to talk about now, and of course pictures of puppies and kittens to share!
As for the little house that used to be so very quiet, it was now bustling with activity and life again. Merry Christmas!
©2018 A Warm Fuzzy Christmas by Lisa Reifsnider