This holiday season, I’m the most excited about our Christmas tree. I know that may come as a surprise to many of you, who would have guessed it would be the food or the extra belly rubs I’ll invariably receive, but ever since doing all that research on the origins of the Christmas tree, I’m a big fan. Plus the tree has seduced me with its beauty and luminosity. It has the best decorations— sparkling white lights, silver tinsel, little tin toy soldiers, gingerbread men and women, big red bulbs, and an angel at the top. If they were real they’d be the best playmates. And then there’s the old-fashioned train at the bottom. I just love watching it go round and round. I wish I was small enough to ride on it. Curling up underneath the tree is my new favorite place to write content for my column or take a nap. Yawn! I think I need one right now. But I’ll just try to focus a bit… longer…
Well, hello? What’s this? Did I doze off and someone take me to an amusement park? I appear to be on a train, and we’re heading into a tunnel surrounded by fir pines and white lights and now…. We’ve stopped. I appear to be in a magical fir forest gently illuminated with soft white lights. How did I get here? “Charlie, Charlie!” a deep voice suddenly cries. “Glad to see you made the journey okay.” I turn to see a gingerbread man walking towards me. As if this isn’t odd enough, he’s the same size as me, instead of being the size of a chew toy, and… he’s actually a cookie.
“Who are you?” I ask, wondering if it’s inappropriate or not to inquire if he’s really edible. I know from long experience that I have a way of attracting magical creatures during the holiday season (read my archives online if you’re new to the scene) and since I didn’t have any visitors last year, I’m definitely overdue.
“You can call me Fred,” the gingerbread man replies. “I was sent to greet you and show you around. We thought you might be a bit disoriented after the shrinking and the train ride and being transported inside the Christmas tree and all that. But don’t get any ideas… they cook me at a low temperature so I won’t break— you’ll crack your teeth if you mistake me for a snack.” We both laugh uproariously, though seeing my surprise he adds: “You didn’t have to ask. You are a dog, after all.”
I like Fred’s candor around the subject of his mortality, but decide to get back to me: “I got my Christmas wish this year then!” Just then I’m startled by a refined, high-pitched melody gently reverberating through the branches. It reminds me of icicles if they could sing, but more delicate.
“Oh don’t mind the tinsel,” Fred says. “They giggle at everything.”
“How delightful,” I reply. “They sound like violins. Oh hello, here’s someone new.”
It’s Francine the gingerbread woman, and Fred’s second half. They seem like a great couple. Solid folk, with big hearts and frank smiles and the same sense of style. It’s nice to see them plodding along through the fir branches, hand in hand, waving to the tinsel as they go. But it’s Spark the tin toy soldier who’s my favorite. Tall and thin, he appears stiff and uptight initially, but he has a wry sense of wit and I’m sure is good in emergency situations. His stiffness, he tells me, is from not learning the importance of stretching when he was younger. We laugh and talk and play, and listen to the tinsel giggling and Gloria, the angel at the top and the obvious star of the show, sing. And I’m having so much fun I’m not even noticing the lateness of the hour until I glance over at Fred and Francine and get hungry. “We’d better get you home Charlie,” he says. “Come back anytime, you’ll always have friends here under the tree.” Suddenly I’m inexpressibly sleepy; when I awake, I’m outside the tree, and my paws are the same size relative to Fred as I remember them initially. I sigh with contentment. I love magic.