Another Christmas morning, and as usual, I’m the first one up, me and the tiny furball I have curled in my arms. As we near the bottom of the stairs he wiggles to get loose. I can feel the excitement coming off of his little 6 lb. body. He reaches up and kisses my nose and I laugh. “Be patient, Baxi! I know you’re excited,” I tell him, “but you’ve got to go potty first.” I carry him straight to the door knowing if I put him down too soon he’ll head straight to the Christmas tree. Baxter loves Christmas!
After a quick trip outside, Baxter, too excited for even his usual “potty treat”, rushes through the house, unsure of where to go first – to the smell of the ham floating from the crockpot, to the stairs to rouse the rest of the sleeping family, to the sparkling tree. He chooses the tree and heads straight for his own stocking which is on the ground, leaning against the packages. No one needs to tell this little Yorkshire “terrorist” which stocking of the group is his – he knows immediately and proceeds to tear into his treasure. I begin to laugh again. “No no,” I scold. “You have to wait until everyone is up.” I take the stocking and hang it on the handle of the tv cabinet. He stares at me, then stares at the stocking now out of his reach. He is not happy, but it’s Christmas and there are many other things for his little doggy mind to explore. He quickly begins sniffing around the other gifts under the tree. But, he’s a good dog and doesn’t disturb the gifts he knows are not his. I go about preparing things for when the rest of the family wakes, however, I can’t help noticing Baxter repeatedly returning to his stocking, hanging just out of his reach. I know, somehow, that he’s plotting how he can get that thing down from it’s lofty perch.
Finally, the rest of the family makes their way down the stairs. Baxter can hardly contain his joy as he greets each person as if he hadn’t seen them in years rather than just a few short, sleepy hours before. Excitedly, he tries to coax each one over to the tree to retrieve his stocking. But, everyone knows the family routine, the traditions, and poor little Bax is left waiting. Still, as breakfast is served he is consoled with nibbles of egg and sausage, helping the time to pass more quickly. Then comes the time to gather around the tree as a family and read the Christmas story from the Bible. Dad gets the Bible. I get Baxter. Good little dog that he is, he sits still and attentive on my lap as Dad reads from the book of Luke, but I see his little puppy head looking over and over again to the tv center where his stocking hangs, taunting him.
At last the time for gifts has arrived! We have compassion on his little puppy heart and let Baxter open his stocking and gifts first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the children as excited as this little yorkie over the sight of his chewies and treats and squeaky toys! Each treat must be sampled. Each chewy tested. Finally, Baxter seemingly content with his new prizes, the rest of us begin to open our own gifts. But, wait, someone has crumpled up their wrapping paper and tossed it out of their way! And, behold, a new game for Baxter has begun. The only thing moving faster through the air than the flying wads of Christmas wrap is the blur of the little black and tan canine determined to catch and destroy each and every piece before it reaches the ground!
Soon Grandma and Grandpa arrive and, of course, Baxter is the first to greet them, with wagging tail and puppy kisses for all! Excitedly, he must show them all his new treasures just like the kids. As we sit down to Christmas lunch, Baxi takes his usual place as well, anxiously awaiting his special meal, pacing and prancing as I take his little red bowl and fill it with a yorkie-sized portion of ham. Naturally, he is the first one finished, and drags his bowl back to me, pleading with big brown eyes for a second helping. Well, after all it IS Christmas!
The day continues with almost more excitement than one little dog can contain! A car trip to other grandma and grandpa’s (we love car trips!) where Baxter will get to play and exchange gifts with his puppy cousins, and there will be more ham and gift wrap chasing. He’ll share Christmas cookies on Daddy’s lap, a favorite tradition. Then another ride home!
By the time the day is done, Baxter is sleepily curled up between Daddy and I on our bed, taking up more space than you would expect any 6 lb. yorkie ever could! I try to scootch him over, but he stubbornly refuses and I accept my fate half on and half off the bed. Baxter sighs a deep contented sigh and is quickly sound a sleep. I hear a loud snore come from his little body and I laugh. It’s been a good Christmas for a little dog!
Baxter will not be celebrating Christmas with us this year. We lost him very suddenly and unexpectedly on June 1. Christmas will not be the same without our little guy. He truly did love Christmas and was as excited as any child I’ve ever seen on Christmas morning. I admit that there’s a piece of the joy of the season missing for me this year because of his absence. But, I am grateful beyond words for the 8 joyous years the Lord blessed us with this sweet little dog. He truly was more than just a dog – he was part of our family! All I can say to someone who does not understand that is, “I guess you’ve never had a Baxter!”