Jessie sniffed the corn stubble. There were so many wonderful scents on the pumpkin farm that she hadn’t been watching Santa. So, when she turned to greet her friend she was startled. Santa’s face was no longer rosy and plump. Instead, it was smeared with black and white makeup. His face looked like a skull and Jessie didn’t like that.
Jessie whimpered and put her legs between her legs. She edged her way away from the corn maze and moved behind a sculpture of two horses with a cart that was made of twigs. Jessie flopped down on the ground and placed her head on the nearest pumpkin. She looked mournfully into Santa’s face and sighed.
Santa laughed. “What’s wrong, Jessie? Don’t like my new look?” He reached up and rubbed his chin. When he reached into his pocket dirty black makeup smudged his jeans. Santa tried to wipe the smudge clean but couldn’t. He pulled out his tee shirt to cover the offensive mark and looked down at the dog.
“It’s okay, Jessie. It’s all in good fun. The haunted pumpkin farm is a fundraiser for homeless families. I’ll take off the mask soon. I promise! Anyone, for caramel corn?”
Jessie’s ears perked up and she raised her head off the pumpkin. She timidly wagged her tail and then hurried to catch up with Santa as he walked to the food table down by a stage. Jessie approached the table but stopped and tilted her head as she noticed the man on stage. He was dressed as a zombie and his hair was flopping up and down. It fell off his head.
Jessie sat mesmerized for several minutes until Santa held out a handful of corn for the dog. Jessie licked Santa’s hand and woofed down the sweet treat. She turned to look at the stage again but the zombie was gone and two young girls were holding up pumpkins they had carved.
At that moment, from somewhere behind a pile of pumpkins a loud “Kaboom” filled the air. The sound lasted for over a minute. It was so high pitched that it hurt Jessie’s sensitive ears. She dropped to the ground and put her paws against her ears. She began to cry loudly. As suddenly as it started the sound stopped but not soon enough for Jessie. Her ears rang and she no longer liked the pumpkin patch. She wanted to go home.
Santa reached down and massaged the dog’s ears. “Some prankster set off a bunch of firecrackers behind the hay bales on the other side of the barn. They’ve been stopped. They could have set us all on fire! I’m sorry about your ears, Jessie. Let’s go find the sleigh and head back to Ms Claus.”
Santa picked up the dog and began to wind his way through the crowd of oddly dressed people. As Jessie watched her surroundings from the warmth of Santa’s arms, she wished the party didn’t have to be so scary. Jessie liked parties. After all, parties had food, and warm hugs, and food, and music, and most of all food. But, somehow a party where everyone tried to scare everyone else seemed strange to her. At least the scary parties would be over soon and the fun parties of Christmas and New Year’s Eve would be along soon. Jessie wagged her tail. Soon, she’d have shortbread, dances with Molly, gift giving with Santa and Christmas Eve Day roast beef. She’d be home soon and she couldn’t wait for the holidays.