I was beginning to see the light of another Alabama morning. Almost time to get up. A little chilly out there, and very still, I noticed. For some reason, it was always very still on Christmas morning, I thought, as I peeked through the blinds of my little bedroom and looked at our front yard on Valley Park Drive.
The daybreak meant only one thing today. It was almost time for presents. The ones under the tree that I'd spent weeks wondering about, dreaming about, and recently trying to guess.
Goodness knows this particular Christmas morning was wonderfully different. That's because I heard the whimper. Am I hallucinating? It is, after all, very early in the morning. No, it was real. I heard it again. I was no Elementary School Columbo, but even I knew that the sound wasn't coming from my brother, Mom or Dad. And they were the only other living souls, to my knowledge, in our house. And they weren't huge candidates for whimpering, anyway, considering I was making mostly A's in school at that time in my life and would not begin to provide numerous reasons for worries and outcries until at least ninth grade or so. But I digress.
It had to be a dog. Just had to be.
We'd never owned a dog before, but boy how I'd wanted one. Yes, we had a parakeet named Blue Boy. But he didn't do too much. He sat there. He didn't talk, either, best I remember, until he finally bit the dust after a couple of mostly unproductive years.
I had to find out the origin of the whimper.
But as the unwritten Christmas rules went in our family, we all had to be "up" before one of us dared to venture into the living room, where the tree was. I had to wake my brother, Charlie, down the hall, to start things. Then my parents. Usually I got some kind of one or two word affirmative response to my question, "You awake?" as I (as always) tried to rouse the household. My Dad would say, "Merry Christmas, buddy," as he lay flat on his back staring at his bedroom ceiling, having been up all night wrapping presents, unbeknownst to me. Mom was the hardest one to wake. "Merry Christmas, baby," she'd finally say, and I'd know that this show was close. It was about to begin.
On Christmas morning, time stands still. And on this particular morning, one I'll never forget, I clearly see that brown box in the middle of our living room, where Sassy, a baby black Dachsund, sat, lightly whimpering, saying hello to her new family and letting us know that she, too, was ready for Christmas morning to commence.
Yes, the Kirk family had a dog, one that would stay with us for years and give me a young starting point for the incredible love and appreciation that I have for animals today. My parents, as they did so many times at Christmas, had provided a magical moment for a young boy who grew up with a jubilant, excited wonder about life and what lay behind its next curve.
Other than digging her way out of our backyard a few times over the years, Sassy was a great dog and a great friend.
Needless to say, I've never found a way to properly thank my parents for all those magical moments. Especially the ones during the holidays, when I grew up knowing that miracles are possible at Christmas. I'm hoping that this little Christmas memory does some of that. One day maybe I can repay them a tiny portion of all the joy that they have provided me in my lifetime. That is my dream this Christmas.
Over the next two weeks, Town Square Buzz staff members will be sharing holiday memories from years gone by. We hope it provides an extra dose of holiday cheer for our readers.