I love the tradition of putting up the Yule tree. My family always did it Thanksgiving evening, after dinner. We’d eat at my grandpa’s big house, and then we’d get his holiday decorations and start putting them in their places. Some of his ornaments became my favorites, and they are hanging on my flat Yule tree today.
Since I’m more in the holiday spirit than normal, I want to write about some of my ornaments. Really, my holiday tree is a chance to get those old memories out once a year. I dust them off, think old thoughts, and hang them up for a month of nostalgia.
Maybe it’s because she passed recently, but I want to start with my Willow ornament. I got it long before Willow passed. It was cute, and getting a dog ornament was a bit of tradition of itself.
A long time ago my family had a Chow named Bear. I might have been in middle school when we first got her. She was a stray my aunt adopted from the streets of Muncie, IN. Eventually she and my grandma couldn’t keep her anymore, so we took her.
She was a good dog. Loyal, fun to play with. She was strong as hell. Animal rights folks get up in arms about chaining dogs outside nowadays, but Bear had a doghouse out back. She slept inside at night. She seemed to like her situation, but every now and again she’d break her chain and we’d get a call from across town. Or she’d eventually come back looking proud of herself. Eventually we got her a really heavy gauge one, but not so big it was a burden. She didn’t break free anymore.
Bear died when I was off to college. She would have been really old at that point. I remember Dad telling me over the phone, saying he knew he shouldn’t say anything but he thought I should know…
Like Willow’s ornament, we bought it long before Bear ever died. We saw a cute Chow ornament when we were out and about and had to have it for our tree. Now both ornaments hang on my tree. They are bittersweet reminders of the canine family that has graced my life.
As George Carlin once said, “Life is a series of dogs.”
In my case, it would be more accurate to say, “Life is a series of dogs and cats.”
I sit here, thankful for my current furry family and thankful for the memories of those who have gone before. It’s amazing how much joy animals can bring into your life, and how much sadness comes when they go.