Last Sunday my wife and I, along with Gidget, The Most Prettiest Dog in the World, joined a bunch of fellow Somers residents at the front lawn of the Elephant Hotel to usher in the holiday season with the lighting of the Somers Christmas tree. The weather was perfect, cool enough to warrant a cup of hot cocoa, which the Girl Scouts were handing out, along with a bowl full of Hershey’s Kisses. After my sixth handful the Girl Scouts should have presented me with an honorary merit badge in gluttony, but since my birthday falls on December 25th, I am rightfully entitled to twice as much of everything Christmas-related. They say that stolen kisses are the sweetest, but mine were justly appropriated.
I was chatting with a couple readers, Mary, and also Elaine, and it’s nice to know that people still read. My sister told me she read three books this week- WOW, because we Meléns are notoriously slow readers, but upon cross-examination she admitted they were audio books. That’s not reading. When you read you supply the visual scene that the writer sets up in your head. If you want to you can just supply this whole column in your head, and that way I won’t say anything that you might regret later. Next time I see my sister I’ll ask her if she’s heard any good books lately.
While we were waiting I posed with Gidget in front of the Manger for a little family photo, and made a couple jokes to her that I hope she doesn’t have mange because nobody likes a mangy manger, ha, ha, ha. Gidget didn’t find that too amusing, and instead decided that she wants to play in the snow. I had on cowboy boots with less traction than a Giuliani conspiracy theory, and Gidget has on-demand four-wheel drive. I had her leash wrapped around my wrist like a kid holding a balloon, so when she took off at a million miles an hour, the difference between me deciding to go along and me not expressly agreeing to it was hardly worth mentioning.
It probably looked like the first time I went water skiing, once I finally got up on the skis and enjoyed the exhilarating sensation of wondering exactly how I was going to get down off the skis. I was waving my hand in the air, trying to remember whether waving your hand in the air was the sign for “I’m done” or “speed up,” when I went down face first into the surf for what seemed like another five or six miles, shedding my sunglasses, contact lenses, some of my hair and most of my self-respect. “I guess we should have told you to let go of the rope,” they said back on the boat. “If you want we can go back and take a look around for your bathing suit.”
Children love Gidget, and they all came up to visit with her. “Ask if you can pet her, first,” their Moms said. “Can we pet you?” Some asked the dog directly. Gidget looks kind of similar no matter which direction you pet from, so it helps to take a good look first if you’re particular. I thought it was nice that the parents teach their kids to ask first, because when I was a kid we would only remember to ask after the dog bit us if it was okay.
I saw Mrs. Claus handing out candy canes by the hotel entrance, so I knew Santa couldn’t be far behind. I wonder why the Clauses never had kids? Even if they decided not to have children they should have at least had grandchildren- seems like they’d be a natural at it. I have to say that even as a little kid I was skeptical of the whole Santa Claus story. Do you mean to tell me that ALL the toys for all the good little girls and boys are going to fit onto that one sleigh? Either each toy would have to be microscopic, or hardly anyone is left in the world who wasn’t naughty. And how is this guy with a stomach like a bowlful of jelly, who clearly is on the “Cheeto diet” going to get down the chimney without catching the flue? But my parents seemed to believe it so I went along because I didn’t want to burst their bubble.
I fell in behind Santa who was making good time getting through the crowd because he had his own security detail. My Dad used to do the same thing whenever an ambulance passed us in the car, and he’d follow along right behind it. We’d get where we were going twice as fast, as long as we were going to an accident. Santa walks faster than you’d think, and even though I want to make it clear that I don’t believe the whole Santa Claus fable, I might have mentioned to him that I wear size 11 cowboy boots, and I’d prefer ones with a little more tread on the bottom.
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