Chapter 1: The Happiest Time of the Year
I can always tell when it’s getting close. The happiest time of the year, that is.
And it always seems to start with the tree.
But I guess I need to begin my story where all stories begin, and that’s at the beginning.
Hi! My name is Jake, and I’m a little black dog with a white furry bottom.
I’m the little pig dog. My Mama first called me that after her and Daddy found me alone and starving in a field. I tried to bark and say hello, but all that came out was a grunt like a pig.
Mama and Daddy adopted me and took me in to live with them in their little gray house. They named me Jake, and that is where I learned about the happiest time of the year.
And like I said, it all started with a tree.
I had been living in my new home for a while, and a lot had happened since I was found in the field. Mama and Daddy had taken me to see Dr. Ann and she found out that I was very sick.
After I had gotten better and was able to go outside, I met a little possum who lived under a branch pile. His name was Marvin and we became the very best of friends.
The days began to get shorter and colder, and I wasn’t allowed to stay outside as much.
I was lying by Dad’s chair and he was scratching behind my ears when Mom first said something about the tree.
“What are we going to do about a tree this year, now that we have Jake? Do you think that he will bother it in the house?”
“No,” said Dad. “Jake’s a good boy.” He patted my head while he scratched my ears. “We’ve got to have a tree! And besides, I don’t think he’ll go near it once the presents are around it.”
A tree? Why would anyone need a tree in the house? There were plenty of good trees outside. That’s where trees belong.
And what were “presents”?
It wasn’t long before my questions were answered.
Mom and Dad waited until a day when Brother was off from work, and then they all went and got in the big black truck but left me inside the house.
“No Jake, you stay here” Mama said. “We’ll be right back.” And then they left. I sat and looked out the window. I wished they would come home soon.
I didn’t like to be alone.
It wasn’t long before they pulled up in the driveway, and in the back of the truck was a big green tree.
I started hopping and jumping as they opened the door. I was so excited that they were back home!
“C’mon Jake,” Mama said. “You stay outside now while Dad and Brother bring in the tree. I’ll let you back inside when we get ready to decorate it.”
I kept jumping and barking while Dad and Brother took the tree inside the house. And then they closed the door and left me outside.
I was so confused.
Why did they need a tree inside the house? And what did Mama mean by “decorate”?
I had to go find Marvin. He was older than I was and maybe he knew.
I ran around to the branch pile where Marvin lived. “Hey Marvin,” I said. “Are you in there?”
I saw a little pink nose poke out between the branches and two shiny black eyes inside.
“Hi Jake!” replied Marvin. “I was just about to take a nap. What’s going on?”
“My family just brought a tree home and took it in the house,” I said. “What’s that all about?”
“Oh, it must be Christmas time again!” said Marvin.
“What’s Christmas?” I asked.
“I’m not quite sure,” replied Marvin.
“All I know is that when it’s over they put the old trees outside by the street and all the garbage cans are full of paper and boxes and ribbons.”
“I find the best stuff looking through all of it before the garbage truck comes.”
The back door opened and Mama came outside. “C’mon Jake,” she said. “Come help Mama get the Christmas boxes out of the storage shed. Then we can go inside and decorate the tree.”
Marvin pulled his nose back inside the branch pile to hide from Mom.
“I’ve got to go,” I said. “But if I find out any more about Christmas, I’ll let you know.”
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” said Marvin. “Everybody’s real happy during Christmas. It’s the happiest time of the year.”
Christmas Eve and Christmas morning finally came, and afterwards I couldn’t wait to tell Marvin everything I had learned.
When the presents had all been opened and everyone was looking at their new gifts, I ran out to Marvin’s branch pile.
I told him about decorating the Christmas tree, and putting presents under the tree, and everyone eating Christmas cookies while I ate dog biscuits.
And I told him about waking up and opening the Christmas presents and about all the new toys I got.
I told him that Christmas must have something to do with the Creator and a Holy night that happened a long time ago.
Everyone had prayed the night before and thanked God for Christmas and a “savior” He had sent into the world.
That’s how I first found out about Christmas. That was a year ago, and now it seemed that it was almost Christmas time again!