I’ve been Christmas shopping along Newbury Street, for my Mom, for my nieces, and for The Dog.
The Dog absolutely loves Christmas. He loves the company, the smells from the kitchen, the crumbs of dropped food. He loves the tree. He especially loves the presents. He has always been a present-dog, helping to rip wrapping paper from multitudes of birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents through the years, ever since he was a puppy. But Christmas trumps them all. There are so many presents! Bags of gifts being carried into the house! Presents laid out on the floor, right there underneath the tree! Oh, the anticipation, the excitement of it all!
We have had a few unfortunate incidents over the years…
There was the year he found his toys before Christmas. (Well, so did The Cat.) We had a very tall house when we lived in London. Five stories, with flights of stairs going up, up and around the landings. The kitchen, dining room and family room were in the English basement. That was truly The Dog’s domain.
One flight up, to the living room and My Husband’s study – described by the British estate agent as a double drawing room.
Up again to the children’s bedrooms and baths.
One more flight to the master bedroom, dressing area and bath.
One more (I know, I know!) to my desk, nestled into the dormer window under the roof, with a view out over the tree tops and chimney pots of Notting Hill.
Then as now, I had been out Christmas shopping. I carried all my bags and packages up to the master bedroom, where I would set up a card table to wrap presents, and deposited them behind an armchair. (No peeking!). A day or so later, I came home to find The Dog quietly napping in the kitchen, upside down against the kitchen counter. I made my way up the stairs, up, up, up, to the bedroom. There, on the floor beside the armchair, I found a shredded shopping bag, pieces of damp, grey, well chewed cardboard, and the remnants of a box of dog bones. Yes, The Dog had smelled his presents, from the basement, and in the quiet of an empty house had made his way up three flights of stairs to the master bedroom. Ripped open the bag, clawed and chewed open the box, enjoyed the majority of the contents, and made his stealthy way back down the stairs to the kitchen. Not a trace of guilt. Not a trace of dog bone either. No, butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.
(Yes, The Cat did the same thing one year, found her Christmas catnip mouse and shredded the paper as she played her way down the stairs, leaving a flagrant trail of evidence. Like she cared… But you almost expect that of a cat, don’t you?)
Another year The Dog forgot himself in the presence of the Christmas tree. With memories of past Christmas gifts dancing in his head, The Dog made his way into the living room when no one was about and started unwrapping presents all by himself. We had words after that episode. But we also stopped displaying presents under the tree until Christmas Eve. A Dog can only stand so much temptation after all.
This year we will be celebrating our first Christmas in Boston. Our Boston apartment is spread over one and a half floors of a turn-of-the-last-century townhouse, but we live mostly on the main floor. So when I returned from Newbury Street laden with my packages yesterday, I knew The Dog would be waiting for me, tail wagging, a toy in his mouth in greeting. So where to hide his gifts?
Quick, into the coat closet! I hung the pet shop bag on a hanger, off floor level. Then I proceeded nonchalantly into the bedroom with my other shopping bags.
The Dog knew of course. He came right over to me and sniffed my hands. And raised his nose into the air and sniffed some more. And walked to the door of the bedroom, sniffing about. Okay, I’m a meanie, but The Dog made me laugh.
Don’t you just love keeping secrets before Christmas?
Safely behind the closed door of the front hall closet, suspended on a hanger, with the scent of the pet store slightly masked by the aroma of cedar hangers, repose The Dog’s Christmas gifts.
Shhh. Don’t tell. They are a surprise for Christmas morning..