Last Christmas ....!

wreathIt is the same every year: I am given those stupid Rescue drops because of New Year's Eve and such.
They taste awful, but I take them because it tranquillizes them.
Them, not me. My humans, I mean.

Actually they should take them. Around Christmas time they always act so funny.
But I am not complaining, folks, the time before Christmas is always rather quiet and beautiful.
There's something special about it. Yes, there is.
(How it will be this year with Blue Bear ....., o.k. let's drop the subject!)
Sure, neither Rieke nor I find much pleasure in being dragged along to those Christmas markets.
That is we are not dragged, but carried. Otherwise we would be trampled under foot by all these people who cannot see us down there in the teeming crowd. Plans to equip us with blinking collars and Santa hats have so far been categorically dismissed by the master of the house. Thank heaven.
Still, these Christmas markets are not really to our taste. Baking cookies is far more interesting because something always lands on the floor regardless of how careful they are. We always get our share, yessir.

But as I said before, I don't think the season of Advent is so bad.
Christmas itself is mostly quite funny. At least from a Corgi's point of view. It starts with the child (who actually is not really a child anymore) proclaiming that this year he is not as excited as he used to be, having realized that Christmas will come whether or not you are excited.
Oh yeah? Yet he is so fidgety that it is almost unbearable. Worse than Rieke. And that's saying something. Rescue drops? Or Valerian. Gallons of it!
Each year during Christmas preparations Mom suffers from a momentary panic attack. The cause is quite irrelevant, it's simply part of it all, I believe. We all look at her inquiringly, then hubby quietly grabs the coffee grinder and starts brewing some strong black coffee.

Dad is usually a very laid-back person who doesn't get easily excited. That is on 364 out of 365 days of the year.
Nevertheless he does have a weak spot, too.
And this is revealed in the morning of Christmas Eve when it's time to put up the tree.
From a purely technical point of view, that is the mechanical side of it, there is no problem.
But he is married to a woman who, even at a distance of 3 meters, can spot a vertical deviation by a micrometer out of the corner of her eye. And this means trouble.
Dad much rather relies on one of his 73 water-levels. Unfortunately, they are difficult to use with such a tree, the branches are in the way.

For this very reason we usually have a tree in a pot after the motto: When it stands, it stands.
Of course this also takes some time, but those potted firs are definitely more handy. If you ask me, I always found trees in pots rather boring.
How do you expect me to pee into a pot that high?!?
On the other hand, all this excitement about a tree, I wonder whether it may harm our canine emotional balance?

You see, last year, out of financial considerations, a "bottomless" tree was purchased and Dad, from the first slightly irritated, started to work on it.
The tree was of course quickly put up, but the vertical adjustment was quite another matter! Rieke, as usual ignoring the gravity of the situation dashed under the Christmas tree and started licking Dad's face. His position was quite hopeless: under him the wooden floor, above the tree and in between a Corgi with an exuberant temperament. He wanted to scold, but even this was impossible. Have you ever tried scolding with a muzzle stuck in your mouth? Hee, hee!

cookieI know when it is wise to decamp, so I withdrew to the kitchen where Mom was about to fill the Christmas cake. She was humming to herself, I couldn't quite make out the words but it sounded like:
"When the cake has come apart,
tra-la-lee, tra-la-la
spit will quickly fix the tart
But she is cheating, I saw it with my own eyes, she uses apricot jam to make it stick together again.
"Mommy, please, may I have some of it", I beg.
"Chocolate cake is not good for dogs", she remarks wisely.
"Then let me have some of the filling!"
The filling is absolutely delicious, I KNOW because last summer we made jam together.
"Jam is not good for your teeth ..."
That's daft, downright daft.
"It is not good for your teeth either!"
"That's right, but I brush my teeth!"
Ha! Now I got her!!!
"You are also brushing mine!!!"

Set and game for me! What else can she say? My efforts are rewarded with an almond, a big tasty almond: delicious!

The cook flees the kitchen to find solace in the living room, from greedy Corgis she says.
I don't know if this is wise.
Because the menfolk are standing in the living room dolefully viewing the Christmas tree:

"Mega-lopsided", Dad states sadly.

Mom looks at him and I know that she decides there and then that next year it is going to be a potted tree again, regardless of the price and despite the fact that the garden in a few years will be a dense forest. Then she resolutely grabs the hapless tree with one hand and puts it straight.
"Now tighten the screws!"
During this procedure the tree tips slightly to one side again, but not too badly.

"Is it straight now or still .....??" Dad asks hopefully.
"No, before it was mega-lopsided, now it is just lopsided".

They leave it at that. There must also be room for lopsided trees.

nutcracker And once you start hanging baubles, cones and angels on the branches, you don't notice it any longer. Provided there are many baubles.
Perhaps this is why decorating the tree always takes such a long time.

We are beginning to sulk: it's already afternoon and still no walkies!
Finally the daylight begins to fade and at long last they grab their coats and caps and we all leave the house. It was about time!

A lot of people are out and about, all with large parcels, but unfortunately none with dogs.
We go for a long walk in the wood where today it is particularly nice because it has been raining, yet there is still ice on all the roads:
Perfect for aquaplaning!!
We soon find out how much acceleration we need to slide and come to a halt precisely where the ball is. Quite contrary to the humans who when throwing the ball always look as if they are going to land on their bottom. It's called centrifugal force!

By the time we come home, it is dark outside.
All dress nicely and Rieke and I are wearing our red Christmas scarves with trees and reindeer. Rieke, who has a habit of chewing everything she can get hold of, is immediately trying whether she can wear her scarf across her nose like a stagecoach robber, probably in the belief that she will be unrecognisable during one of her escapades. Which, of course, is quite ridiculous.

Soon we are buried under a mountain of paper and can play catch with the ribbons. There are also presents for us: a nice fleece rug for each, red with black paw prints. And finally we also get something to eat: chicken broth, yummy.

toyIndeed, last year we had a wonderful and cosy Christmas Eve.
The child was scrutinizing his new Christmas treasures, Mom was lying on the sofa browsing through her new Christmas books, with little Rieke by her side contentedly sucking the corner of a handmade patchwork throw.
Dad had gone outside, probably to fetch some wood for the Christmas fire and perhaps listen to the Christmas bells.
I looked once more at the Christmas tree.
The lights on the tree were shining so brightly and I, too, felt the spirit of Christmas.
My heart opened wide and I just had to yodel. Just a wee bit and only once:
" Chriiiiiiiisssstmaaaaaaaaassss iiiis fooor Cooorgiiiiiiiiiiiiiis....! "

I should have known.
In the mountains you are not to call out loudly either, lest you want to trigger an avalanche. My avalanche was set off by a small red and white striped candy cane which fell to the floor with a slight tinkle. It was ever so tiny but it must have kept the tree in balance.

Like in slow-motion, the tree all of a sudden tilted towards the floor.
I know Mommy can be quick when she wants to, but this kind of header was new to me.
The performance was almost perfect while the artistic interpretation calls for improvement...

She stood there, with the tree in her arm, torn between her concern for the Christmas baubles which once had adorned the Christmas tree in her late great-grandmother's home and ... roaring laughter.

Xmas tree

Finally, Dad with fierce determination drove a wooden wedge between the trunk and the tree holder. And, lo and behold, our tree stood straight at last!
Text and graphics ©2005,
English translation: ANo