The men are all gathered around the TV. Daughter Shelby is hanging out with friends she hasn’t seen since high school graduation, ten years ago. Konnie is in the kitchen preparing treats for a Christmas Eve gathering. Grandson Sullivan and his parents are visiting the other grandparents. And the dogs — Poe, Poppy, Portia, Dallie, and Flash — are all bedded up for the night.
Dallie and Flash are the two dogs that belong to Konnie & Jon. Portia is Stephan’s dog. Poe is the demon dog that bit my nose off a couple of years ago. And Poppy is the dog Mama asked me take when she found out she was ill.
Did I mention that Poppy is a huge dog?
A beast of a dog?
About 150 pounds of Bouvier, although son Stephan swears Poppy is a Russian sheepdog and not a Bouvier at all.
Perhaps. All I know is that last night she was dirty and company was coming and she needed a bath in the worst way. And it was midnight.
It has always been that during the holidays I am at my most productive after midnight. Are you like that? I think it must be fallout from having four toddlers around all those years ago. The only time I could sew (yes, I was quite domesticated years ago) was at midnight. If it was gifts that needed wrapping? After midnight. Food to prepare? Midnight hour.
Besides, the problem with giving Poppy a bath is the same anytime day or night — getting her into the tub. The first time I tried it, I spent an hour coaxing, begging, pulling, and, then, in utter desperation, dumping a bucket of water on her head and all over my bathroom floor.
Poppy is a huge dog but she has the mindset of a toy poodle. She thinks she is petite, and because she believes she is small, she is afraid of most everyone and everything. The world just seems like a scary place to her. She doesn’t recognize her own power.
Last night, not even the promise of a cookie could coax her from her cowering place between the toilet and the wall. The bathwater was perfect. The doggie shampoo and brush were in hand. I called to Poppy repeatedly but no matter how insistent I was, Poppy would not budge from the corner she had wedged herself into.
So I resorted to desperate measures. I stripped off my sweats and climbed into the tub first. Standing shin deep in a bathtub of doggie bubbles, I called out again, “Poppy, come.”
And she immediately placed two ginormous paws on the side of the tub and hopped in with me.
There was no shoving. No yanking. No more coaxing. No more begging.
Poppy was content to let me shampoo her, trim the hair around her big brown eyes, and even to brush her. We were in that tub together for a good hour before I got her muddy coat clean.
As I was drying her off, the words of that old hymn that we sang so often growing up came to me again: Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
After I brushed her, Poppy found a spot on the carpet by my bed and curled up, contented to just be with me, because it’s here, right beside me, that Poppy feels her safest, her most loved.
That ever-present assurance, the one that says, “You are not alone. I am here, right beside you,” is the greatest of all gifts.
It is the gift of Christmas.
The babe in the manager, and the man upon the cross, and the empty tomb that followed.
Merry Christmas friends. Thank you for all the many ways you have let me know throughout this year that you’ve been right here beside me.
May the gift of Jesus be yours today.
“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!” Luke 2:16-20 MSG