This time of year is funny in that it can both inspire incredible feelings of joy and generosity and faith, while at the same time evoking sadness. We collect memories of Christmas like stamps or coins, and sometimes the memories are all we have left. I fondly remember the years we enjoyed the holidays with my grandparents who are no longer with us, for example. Those happy memories with loved ones only add to the joy I feel at this time, though I still miss them very much.
Likewise I’ve been thinking about Jade a lot lately, our beautiful dog who passed away earlier this year. Whether it’s flipping through past Christmas photos of her, or spreading out decorations and finding her Santa hat, or seeing holiday-themed dog toys in the grocery store, I seem to be constantly reminded that she’s not here this year. I’ve kept a brave face but the truth is I miss her terribly and our house still feels empty without her… and this time of year simply seems to emphasize that.
Jade sure hated the Santa hat we forced on her every year! She always took on a look of shame and worry about whatever she must have done to deserve such punishment. And as soon as we took it off, she’d bound around and wag her tail so hard, like she got a get-out-of-jail-free card. She seemed happier around the holidays, probably because we were home so much more and she loved being with her people. We often visited the dog park more frequently too, which may have also contributed. We would also take her with us when we went to our families’ houses and she’d soak up the attention of adults and hide from the children and other dogs. I’d end up attaching bows and ribbons to her and she’d take it all like a champ, just in bliss that she could enjoy the festive atmosphere with us.
I’m lucky that I had an outlet for my sorrow in the many family dogs we spent time with this season. Bear, Zach, Taffy and Poppet were my saviours as they soaked up my bottomless affection, whether they truly wanted any or not. I’m sure Bear in particular could not have cared less, but he took it anyway. Maybe he knew, maybe they all knew, that I needed them this year…
So, in honour of family members who are no longer with us but brought us such joy in previous holiday seasons, a toast! This one’s for you, Jade.