Mavis Duke Hinton, Author

                          Dachshund Books for Dog LoversHeartfelt Christian Fiction & Nonfiction


A Dachshund's Merry-Go-Round Life, Book Five 



Chapter 24 – Christmas Eve: The Unique Gift

(Note: Sarge's thoughts are in italics)

Everyone had chosen the one gift to open that night. The grownups didn’t go on and on about theirs like the kids, but I could tell that they were pleased, anyhow. We dogs just know these things. But what about us dawgs? Don’t we get to open a gift tonight? I barked to Mama. I went over to the tree, then looked back at her.

“I think the dawg wants to open a present, too,” said Papa. “Ain’t they got some presents over there, Dorothy?” Tell ‘em, Papa!

“We got all the dogs something,” said Bethany.

“So did we,” added Mama.

“We brought them something, too,” Mavis commented.

“Yep, we got ‘em each a small gift,” Renata stated.

“Well, we shore did brang them dawgs sumthin’,” Papa said. “So I b’lieve they oughta open one tonight, too.”

“That okay with you, doggie parents?” asked Dorothy. “Our dogs don’t care one way or another—they just sit and watch, usually, but I bet Duke and Sarge sure want to join in.”

Mavis and Mama said it would be okay for Duke and me to open a present. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! I love presents, and I know that Duke does, too! I began nosing around, looking for something that was mine. Mama came over to where I was in front of the tree.

“Here, Sargie, let Mama help you—I’ll pick out one for you and one for Duke to open.” She rummaged around, found one with my name on it, and after a little more rummaging, found one with Duke’s name on it. She turned around: “Is it okay with y’all if the dawgs go first? They’re not too patient, I’m afraid.” Everybody agreed, so Mama handed me my present first.

I ripped into it with zeal, growling. “Wait! Let me see who it’s from, Sarge!” She grabbed it away from me to look at the tag. “Says it’s from Kurt and Bethany, so here ya go, boy.” She held it out to me, and I snatched it from her, ripping off the paper. I shook it to make sure it was dead. I growled at it to scare it into submission.

Duke was doing the same thing to his when Mama grabbed his present to see who his was from: she read the tag aloud: “Dukie, yours is from Steve and Dorothy!” She threw the small package to him, and he caught it in his mouth. Growling, he shook it, then held it down with one paw as he ripped the paper away. That’s pretty smart, Duke. Bet I’ll get mine open before you do, I barked to him. I worked with renewed energy, finally ripping the cardboard off, and it revealed a purple squeak bone! I began running around, squeaking it as hard as I could. Oh, I’ll kill this bone before long, too. It won’t last five minutes!

Duke had finally gotten the paper off his present, revealing a fuzzy animal toy of some kind. As he bit it, a squeak sounded loud and clear. That really set him off! He and I were squeaking our toys and shaking them, trying to get the squeakers out, thus killing our prey. Oh, we were having so much fun!

Amidst all the squeaking, growling, and shaking of dog toys, Annika opened her gift, which was from Steve and Dorothy. I stopped, wanting to see if she got a squeak toy, too. Nope—it was a pair of black velvet leggings, a bright red fuzzy sweater with sparkles all over it, and a pair of red leather gloves with black fur trim. Thrilled, she hugged Steve and Dorothy and had to go try those on immediately.

Duke was over in the corner still working on his toy, and I noticed he had some of the stuffing out of his already. Clark noticed and retrieved the toy, saying “Duke, let’s put this away for now. You’ll have that fuzzy stuffing all over the floor before long, and it will be a mess.” He took the toy and laid in on the fireplace mantel, much to Duke’s dismay. He looked so disappointed that I carried my squeaky bone over to him and dropped it in front of him. Duke looked at me and lunged for it. Aw, just play with it, ‘cause I’m not gonna chase you, Duke. Go ahead. You deserve some fun. And I sat down in front of Mama.

Alexa’s gift was from Mama, and she gasped when she saw what it was: “Oh wow! It’s a set of books called The Country Girl series! “Thank you, Mama and Daddy! I’ve been wanting to read those books ever since I saw them at the bookstore. The stories are set in the 1890s, the family lives on a farm, and Caroline grows up in these books. She—“

“We get the idea,” Mama cut in. “I’m glad you like them, but Asher is dying to open his gift now.” Alexa nodded, opening one of the books and flipping through the pages.

Asher had picked out a large gift from Papa and Nana, and he was working on opening it. “I see that Mom didn’t scrimp on the tape,” observed Mavis. “Need any help, Asher?” He nodded, so Nana, who was sitting beside him, reached down and helped him open it.

“I guess since I made it so hard to open, it’s only right that I help him get into it, huh?” He lifted the lid to the box, pulled out lots of tissue paper, and inside was something any young boy would love: a set of Galaxy Heroes, and the space ship, too. He was speechless for a moment, and immediately hugged Nana and Papa.

“This is Ramdor, king of the galaxy,” he informed everyone as he held up a small figurine. “And this is his brother, Prince Ashon. He’s a bad guy, so that’s why his clothes are all black. And this is—”

Once again, Mama had to interrupt him. “Those are what you wanted, right? You can play with them quietly, but now it’s everyone else’s turn to open their gift for Christmas Eve.”

Papa and Nana had a large gift to both of them, and she read the tag aloud: “To Mom and Dad, from all of us. That sounds like something special,” Nana commented.

“I bet I know what it is,” exclaimed Papa. “It’s matchin’ toothbrushes fer us both!” It was obvious that the package was way too large just to be toothbrushes, but everyone enjoyed his comment. Papa, you are so funny sometimes.

“Oh, Robert, you always have to say something crazy, don’t you?” Nana laughed, as she was carefully loosening the edge of the paper.

“I see that, as usual, Mom is trying to preserve the wrapping paper to use again next year,” Steve commented dryly.

“Oh, hush,” Nana replied. “I just don’t see any reason to tear it to smithereens and make a big mess in Dorothy’s living room.”

“Thank you, Ramelle,” said Dorothy.

“Son, you’re right,” added Papa. “Ray-melle, I better hep you, or we’ll be here 'til in the mornin’ openin’ this one present. Gimme that box.” He pulled it over to his side of the couch and started ripping paper off right and left. Everyone applauded, and he took a bow. “There now. I opened it, so you git to look inside it.” He slid the box back over to Nana, who lifted the lid, revealing another box inside that one.

“What is this?” she asked.

“Keep going,” Bethany said. “You have a gift in there, I promise.”

So Nana did. She lifted out the smaller box, opened it, only to reveal yet another smaller box inside that one.

“I bet there ain’t nuttin’ in there when you git done!” yelled Papa. They’s just tryin’ to fool us, ain’t y’all?”

“It might be—sumthin’ real small,” added Sellars.

“It might be a cotton ball,” added Asher.

“Or, it might be something really fabulous,” added Mavis. “Get on with it, please!”

So Nana opened the third box, and inside was a festively wrapped flat package. She picked it up, turned it over, and said, “This is so thin that I don’t think there’s anything inside it, Robert.”

“Oh, yes, there is!” yelled Mama. “Hurry up and open it—but be careful so you don’t tear ‘it.’” Nana carefully unfastened the paper around “it,” revealing a plain envelope.

“Well, Ray-melle, open that there envelope. I wanna see what’s in it before I die, ya know.” So, Nana carefully tore open the envelope and lifted out two rectangular pieces of paper. Her mouth flew open. “What is it?” Papa asked, taking them from her hand. He peered at them through his glasses, then smiled. “Y’all shouldn’t a’ done that.” What is it, Papa? I can’t see what it is from down here.

“What is it?” shouted Annika. “You and Nana got two little pieces of paper??”

“Tell ‘em what it is,” Steve said.

“It’s two airplane tickets to Fairbanks, Alaska!” shouted Papa. 

Nana added, “Thankfully, it’s for May, when it’s warm. Wait—there’s something else.” She reached inside the envelope. “Here’s a rental receipt for a car and driver to take us anywhere we wanna go. And, a hotel receipt for Delta Junction, the small town just outside Ft. Greely. Robert, can you believe this? And, are we too old to go that far?”

“Naw, y’all are not too old,” said Steve. “I’ve been hearing ever since we left Alaska that you wished you could go back and visit. We all got together and came up with this idea. You’ll fly up there. Someone will meet you at the airport.”

Mavis continued the story: “And they’ll take you to the hotel where you’ll stay the night. When you’re ready, you’ll be driven to Delta Junction to see how it is today. I’ve done some research online, and it’s still a small place, but they have added more stores, more people, and of course, more tourists.”

“That’s wonderful, Ramelle,” said Renata. “Y’all always wanted to go back up there, but like us, never made it. Well, here’s your chance to do it. And with a driver, too!”

“Mebbe y’all kin—pick me some—cranberries at—Donnelly’s Dome—ta make me—some real—jam from Alaska!” said Sellars. They all laughed.

“I don’t know what I want to see first in Alaska,” said Nana. I don’t care to see the entire state, or even places we didn’t see when we lived there—I just want to see the part where we lived, some of the places we visited, and I doubt if any of the local people we knew back then are still living.”

“Oh, some of their children are,” added Mavis. “I have several friends I went to school with who still live in Delta Junction. Remember my friend Marilyn whose parents ran a lodge there? She and her husband are the owners now. And my good friend Terri, whose parents owned that mobile home park where Dad nearly froze to death inside that trailer before the electricity was turned on—that was when he first went up there, before we came later. I was able to reach her by phone months ago, and she remembered us—her family lives there, and it’s a campground now.”

“Thank y’all all so much,” said Papa, sounding funny. He even got out his handkerchief and blew his nose. “This here is the dream of a lifetime. Me an’ Ray-melle always wanted to go back up there, but never could. Now that we’s so old, I figgered we’d never go. But now, we git to go after all. I cain’t hardly wait. I jest wish it would be like it was all them years ago.”

“Dad, you know Dorothy and I went a few years ago, and it really hadn’t changed that much. Delta Junction is a bit larger, but Alaska is still the beautiful place it used to be.”

Mavis added, “I have another friend I knew there who now lives in Oklahoma—she and her husband have visited there several times, even managing to get on Ft. Greely and drive around. She posted some photos online, and it looks way different, but still has the school and chapel we used to go to.”

“How’d they get on post?” asked Dorothy. “They wouldn’t let us in when we were there!”

“I don’t really know, but her dad was an officer when they lived there, so maybe she pulled some strings.” Pull some strings? Why would she do that?

“That’s so silly,” said Annika. “Did they have to pull strings to open the gate or something?” Everyone chuckled at that.

“No, honey,” said Mavis. “It just means that my friend Suzanne knew someone who lived in Delta Junction and got them guest passes that allowed them to go on Ft. Greely.” Aha. That makes perfect sense.

The rest of the family opened their one gift each, and we had a jolly time that evening. We all went to bed fairly early so we could rise the next morning and enjoy Christmas Day. I was so tired that night, so I went to sleep having no idea what awaited me on Christmas morning.


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**RIP, SHADOW: 2001 - 2017**

**RIP, DUKE 2007 - 2017**