Another round of Christmas miracles (sort of)

Last year, I did a blog post about Christmas miracles. It stemmed from the classic Festivus episode of Seinfeld, in which Kramer exclaims, “It’s a Festivus miracle!” about the most mundane things. Well, my Christmas spirit seems to have busted a flat before it left the North Pole this year, so my miracles aren’t feeling particularly miraculous. But, I still love the idea, so here are my Christmas miracles for this year.

The boys and their holiday scarves. Thanks, Linda!

• Barley’s still plugging along. It will be two years in January since he was diagnosed with liver disease and his health has been relatively good. He’s going a bit blind and deaf, and he’s cranky as a wolverine lately (photo evidence at right), but it’s more than I imagined two years ago. He’ll have another checkup next month and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good liver tests and proof the medicine is keeping him steady.

• I’m still gluten-free and mostly happy to be. I scraped the toppings off a Papa Murphy’s pizza last week after nearly a year dreaming, crying, and praying for pizza. It was a particularly low moment. But, those have been relatively few. My next challenge will be giving up dairy. It might kill me, but all the hours I now spend in the bathroom are hours I’ll never get back. On the upside, I get a lot of reading done.

• The rhino knee has been downgraded to a manatee knee. (Yes, I know manatees don’t have actual knees, but I was at a loss for a slighter smaller, gentler, yet still lumpy and unattractive, animal. I’m open to other suggestions.) My knee surgery was almost a year ago and, while the knee still looks lumpy and feels swollen, I can hike, work out, and do everything I did before. Isn’t modern medicine amazing?

• Another year is right around the corner. I am convinced 2012 will be much better than 2010 and 2011. It has to be. Maybe I’ll make some resolutions this year. I threatened to last year, but all I came up with was riding a horse, which I did over the summer. I’ll try to come up with some new ones for 2012; I need more adventure.

What are your Christmas miracles? What are you planning for 2012?

Happy holidays!

A ghost of Barley’s Christmas past

Dougal and Barley

The holiday spirit seems to have skipped my house this year. In spite of my best efforts (and I consider binge eating holiday candy to be an effort), I just can’t seem to feel excited about the holidays. To fake it until I make it, I wanted to share a story about Barley’s first Christmas.

My ex and I were living in a small apartment near the college at the time. We didn’t have much money. We had a free tree thanks to a story I did about a local tree farm, but no ornaments. Being young and full of energy, I decided to make some dough ornaments (the kind little kids make with flour, salt, and water). I spent hours rolling out dough, cutting shapes with cookie cutters, baking them, and ultimately painting them. It was a big job. I made several dozen and used the remaining dough to make little penguin figurines for a winter scene.

The tree was up and gorgeous for exactly one day.

By the time I came home from work on day two, the tree was horizontal and nearly all of the ornaments were chewed or partially eaten. Barley had paint all over his face and feet (thankfully, it was tempura paint, so no harm done). Even my little dough penguins had been eaten. There were fir needles everywhere.

I must have stood speechless in the doorway for several minutes; Barley was hiding under the coffee table. I was too stunned to be angry. In fact, all I could do was laugh.

As I sorted through the ornaments later, I came to a realization that Barley may be the smartest dog on earth. He spared the ugliest ornaments, limiting himself to eating only the cute ones. The weirdo Grimace ornament that looked like Jabba the Hutt and the sausage-like candy canes were among those untouched by schnauzer teeth. In fact, I still have those ornaments, even though I haven’t displayed them in years. They are incredibly ugly, but they bring good memories of that time.

Since then, Barley hasn’t touched a Christmas tree. I suspect he remembers the bath he got after the first time.