A very merry Christmas
December 26, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoOn Christmas Eve morning I set out in the light snow in my Volkswagen bug (thank God I’d finally bought new snow tires) to spend the night in Carbondale with my daughter Skye, her husband Steve, my granddaughter Riley, their cockapoo, Scout, and their elderly cat, Blossom.This was my first overnight at the Skinners’ and constituted something of an expedition, with the car packed with oxygen supplies, suitcase, presents for humans and animals, leashes and collars (almost forgotten), libations, my dachshund puppies, Freddie and Nick, their bed and blankets, a set of dog stairs my daughter Hillery had given me, and a ham.My oxygen provider, PSA, had sweetly dropped off a tank of liquid oxygen so I could have the run of the house on my own long leash. Seconds after our arrival Freddie (the hyperactive elf) went flying up the stairs. Nick (who is chunky) got stuck midway, had to be carried down and suddenly blood-curdling screams announced that Freddie had had an encounter of the feline kind.No blood, no scratched corneas, settled down to lunch and playing hearts and Farkel, a fast-paced dice game wherein you can gain thousands of points or lose everything, while Skye effortlessly conjured up fresh-baked cookies and banana bread and the dogs munched on various forms of rawhide. (I was forbidden to introduce Bully Sticks into the household.) Freddie had an even more ferocious encounter with Blossom, who thereafter laid low.I noticed that Scout already had the dead chicken squeaky toy I had brought for her, and Skye noticed (“imagine my surprise, Su”) that I appeared for the reading of “The Night Before Christmas” in the exact nightgown that she had gotten for me. If one is good, two is better.The house was in hill Christmas regalia, and at 9:30 the ritual was for everyone to go to bed, after which Riley would tip down with her presents, then Steve would tip down with his and fill Skye’s stocking, then Skye would fill the rest and put out even more presents.My bedroom was downstairs, with a convenient dog door. The bed was high, and the dog steps were a foot short – no problem for Freddie. Skye, always enterprising, emptied two large dresser drawers and set the steps on them, but it was still too much for Nick, who had to be (grunt) lifted up and down.By then we were ready for bed anyway and up at 7:15 – Riley sent Scout in to wake us up. There was a real glut of presents, a lot funny (wild sunglasses for everybody from Hillery and Bruce, Jesus pencil toppers and a genuine metal Slinky for me from Santa), most of them practical: They gave each other down jackets and travel maps and books for the Skinners’ forthcoming spring break trip to London and Paris (brrrr), some extravagant (cross-country skis and boots for Skye from Steve) and lots of lip balm.Novels, clothes, candy, dog treats, too many things to remember. In their excitement, the puppies forgot the dog door and were (I hope) forgiven their indiscretions. We lolled over the unwrapping, interspersed by breakfast and family phone calls, and a lovely time was had by everybody except Blossom.I left shortly before 2 p.m. Nick and Freddie slept the whole way home, staggered into the house, snuggled into their bed and didn’t wake up until 7:30.Su Lum is a longtime local who hopes Blossom enjoyed her catnip cigar when she finally emerged from hiding. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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