We have had an amazingly wonderful Christmas Day at the Bergs. After I did my duty at Holy Communion’s 10 a.m. worship service (singing “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” and playing for the hymns so organist Randy Fisher could have the day off) Kathy’s dad and Polly & Mark & Lorelai joined us for a delicious brunch, some blessed rest and relaxation, a plethora of perfectly-chosen gifts (with our niece serving as a tireless and joyous elf) and then a marvelous dinner of swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and black cherry jello salad. (A scalloped corn concoction was less than successful but that was just one momentary blip in what was otherwise a glorious feast. And by the way, it still tasted fine- it just looked disgusting. ) Stir in a visit by the Barrow family that evening, with treats galore and some fun and games, and it adds up to a truly wonderful Christmas Day. In fact, it was all one could ask for except for three mishaps. . . a broken wine glass (no big deal- we have plenty) . . . some spilled Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper on our living room carpet (that was entirely my doing but some quick work with paper towels prevented any permanent damage) . . . and a more serious incident involving our dogs and a Christmas ornament, an incident which I’m going to refer to as Kris Kringle Krunched.
Here’s what happened: When Kathy’s relatives came for brunch, we had Bobbi and Ellie- our two energetic and overly friendly golden retrievers- barricaded in the laundry room, so Polly, Mark and Lorelai could enter our house without risk of concussion thanks to our dogs‘ unbridled enthusiasm for welcoming all visitors. And there the dogs remained for an hour or so, emitting not so much as a single bark, bearing their sadness in silence (thank you, girls) until I finally let them out to join in the festivities.
They spent a few seconds finding our company (now safely seated at the kitchen table) and sniffing them before running off to find other fun. And it seems like it was just a minute or two later when I found them both in the family room, energetically chewing on something, with red and white shards of it strewn about them in the carpeting. It took me just a moment or two to realize with horror that our dogs had managed to find and basically destroy one of Bob’s hand carved Christmas ornaments. And what made this an especially sad turn of events was that the dogs had managed to select, purloin, and destroy the ornament which Bob had lovingly carved, painted, signed, and presented to Lorelai just a few minutes earlier. Needless to say, this was not exactly beneficial to our ongoing campaign to get Lorelai to feel better about our two dogs. (She has grown up with Dachshunds, so our dogs are much too big and way too “in- your-face” – both literally and figuratively – for comfort.) And seeing her in tears over the destroyed ornament was one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in a long long time. And seeing her smiling and laughing a couple of minutes later was one of the best moments of the day. She seemed to eventually understand her mom and dad’s assurance that her grandpa would be happy to carve her another ornament. And he will do that – gladly – and I am certain that he will present that to her on a day when Bobbi and Ellie are miles away. And in all those tears, I think Bob saw how much this hand-carved gift meant to Lorelai- and it’s always good to know that what we have given someone is appreciated and cherished. And isn’t it odd but true that so often we only realize how much we love something when we lose it or break it – or when someone’s dog steals it and turns it into their newest chew toy. As much as Lorelai appreciated this gift when her grandpa first gave it to her, it meant ten times more to her when it had suddenly and rudely been reduced to a pile of shards. And when Grandpa Bob gives her another one, I think she will grasp on a whole new level just how precious this gift is – – – far more precious than any of the Barbie stuff or Lego stuff or other store-bought stuff that someday (in the not so distant future, in fact) will be gathering dust in the basement and not long after that perhaps perched on a card table at a garage sale. But this hand-carved ornament is an entirely kind of gift, and I trust that this particular ornament (and its replacement) is something which Lorelai will especially cherish for as long as she lives.
pictured above: the remnants of the afore-mentioned Christmas ornament which Bob carved for Lorelai.