With a swoosh the tree toppled over onto Santa’s head. It was mid-afternoon and Santa, Jessie and Molly were celebrating their own Christmas before Santa would deliver toys to the children of the world. Santa and Jessie had gone to the tree lot and picked out a real fir tree to put up in their home earlier in the morning. But, Santa’s tummy had grown over the last few days and he was having trouble getting the tree to stand up in its stand.
Santa sighed and scratched his head. He grunted as he stood up and lifted the tree once more. He slid the base of the tree into the hole and then tried to lean it on the wall as he slid down to the ground to tighten the screws on the slim trunk.
Jessie had never seen a real tree inside a house and was fascinated. It seemed to her that it was an awful lot of work to put up the tree but she had to admit the glorious smell of pine in the room was glorious. It reminded her of the happy Christmas’s she had had with her elderly friend in Thunder Bay. Jessie whimpered. She loved Molly and Santa but she still remembered her previous companion and occasionally she thought about her and felt sad.
By this time, Santa had finished putting up the tree. He looked at Jessie with a sad expression on his face. It seemed to Jessie that he knew what she was thinking. But then he was Santa. Maybe he did.
“Come, girl. Help me decorate the tree. Molly’s making us a feast for dinner and is expecting us to have the tree ready for presents by suppertime. If I’m not finished decorating she’ll be upset. You could be a big help by bringing me the ornaments one by one. I brought up some unbreakable ones so that you could help. Molly will put on her special ornaments later when we put the angel on the tree.” Santa gestured to a box by the doorway.
Jessie wagged her tail and trotted over to the door. She picked up a sparkly silver ball and carried it over to Chris. She swiftly handed over the ornament and then went for another while Santa hung the bobble on the tree.
The pair continued decorating the tree in this fashion for sometime until Jessie picked up a white ornament with lines on it. It looked to her like it was a baseball. She furiously wagged her tail and bounced it on the ground. When it bounced back she ran to pick it up and forgot about helping Santa. She bounced the ball several times until it rolled under the sofa. She scurried to the edge and looked under. The ball was just out of her reach. She whined and lay down with her head between her paws.
Santa laughed. “Tired of decorating are we Jessie. Well I think we have enough on the tree. Let’s get a real ball out and play a game of fetch.”
Santa moved to pick a ball up that was in Jessie’s basket of toys. Since she had moved to town she had acquired quite an array. She had dinosaurs, balls, chew toys, and even a stuffed polar bear. Santa was rummaging through the basket when Molly came in the room with a tray laden with hot chocolate, cookies and milk for Jessie.
“Santa! What do you think you’re doing. You should be upstairs bringing down the presents. Supper’s almost ready and Jessie will want to see her Christmas gifts before we eat.” Molly winked at Jessie.
Santa sheepishly dropped the stuffed snake he was holding and muttered to himself. He clomped up the stairs but soon returned with a clothes hamper full of gifts. He delicately put each gift under the tree and called to the dog. “Jessie, come see your gifts. Molly spent all night wrapping them for you.”
Jessie’s ears perked up and she trotted over to the tree. She sat on her haunches and looked in Santa’s eyes.
“Which one do you want to open Jessie? They’re all for you. Molly and I give each other an ornament for the tree every year but otherwise we don’t exchange gifts. We have everything we’ve always wanted in our family. ”
Jessie looked at the pair curiously. They had smiles on their faces and were holding hands. It had never occurred to her that Santa and Molly didn’t really exchange gifts but if they didn’t then why did she have so many presents under the tree. She looked more closely. There were also presents for Charlie the cat. She whined and looked at Molly.
“It’s okay Jessie. We want you and Charlie to have a good Christmas. You’re our family now. I had great joy in picking out the gifts. I hope they make you as happy as they made us finding them.” Molly sniffed and squeezed Santa’s hand
Jessie grinned and pawed a big box close to her. She shredded the paper in excitement to reveal a red plaid flannel blanket.
“It’s for the sleigh Jessie,” said Santa. “I wanted you to have something warm to sit on when we travel.
Jessie picked another parcel and soon she had a pile of gifts ranging from dog bones to play toys to a new leash. She even had a written promise to visit Thunder Bay and see all her old haunts next summer.
Jessie was thrilled with her presents but she wanted to give Molly and Santa something. She tried and tried to think of something to give but she couldn’t. She flopped to the floor and closed her eyes.
“It’s okay Jessie. You don’t have to give us anything. Your companionship is enough. Since you’ve come into our house our lives have become even more joyful then they were before. Just be our friend That’s all you need to do.” Santa petted the dog on the head. When she wagged her tail and sat up he grabbed a box from the tree and gave it to Molly.
“Now, our ornament giving ritual. I hope you like it Molly. I had our head elf make it for you.”
Molly gently took the box and carefully unwrapped the present. Underneath the paper was a rosewood box with a golden clasp. She opened the clasp and pulled out a porcelain ornament of a dog and cat sitting beside each other. The dog had a Santa’s hat on its head. Jessie took a closer look. The ornament was painted so that it looked like the dog was her and the cat was Charlie. Jessie pushed Molly’s leg with her nose.
Molly looked down and explained. “Each year we get an ornament for each other that represents something about that same year. I can’t think of anything more appropriate than remembering our new family on the tree. Santa, help me put on this and our other special ornaments and then we’ll eat dinner.”
Santa opened his ornament and then the pair hung delicate glass ornaments all over the tree. As they pulled them from their cases Molly told Jessie what they were from and what they represented. When they were done Molly put the angel on the tree and Chris flipped the switch to light the led lights on the fir. The tree shimmered and glowed in the firelight and there was a moment of companionable silence in the room. The silence was broken by Molly who called them to the table for dinner.
Jessie held back from the table for a moment. She was happy. She missed her old friend but she had found new ones. New friends that were good to her and loved her. But that’s what Christmas is really all about she thought. It’s about love. Love of family, love of friends and love of the Christ child. When Santa delivered his gifts on Christmas eve he was delivering his form of love to billions of children around the world. Her heart swelled at the thought. She picked up one of her new toys and pranced to the kitchen. She couldn’t wait until the next day. It would be Christmas Eve and Jessie was going with Santa on his voyage. But for now, Molly’s roast beef smelled awfully good.