“Please, Santa, I would like my own puppy for Christmas. I’ve been very good this year. And I don’t want anything else. Love, Julie.”
You see, over the years, Santa has developed a strict No Pet Policy on Christmas Eve. He even included it in the Elfin Handy Helper Study Guide. But it wasn’t always so. How did those humans get things so messed up? It wasn’t the children, of course. It was the grown ups.
There was a time when he could put a big red bow on a darling puppy and place it in a snugly stocking, and know that it would be a treasured member of the family for life. Eve after eve, Santa would drop down chimneys, and be greeted by the very dogs he had given in years past. Cheerful reunions, with wags and woofs, bright eyes and happy tales of living in a family of love. Santa adored seeing the Old Ones: pets who were in their Last Years. Though their eyes could just barely see him, and their ears could no longer hear him thump onto their hearth, their hearts felt his presence and they smiled in their warm plush beds and welcomed him back into their homes.
But times had changed. The dogs used to work the stock, or rid the place of vermin, or provide the family with dinner, or they guarded the homestead, or kept a lap warm. And there was always someone home who needed company. Kids spent every daylight hour playing. And their pets were their very best friends. The pets were important members of their families.
Of course, Santa watches all year long. He started seeing families leaving the house first thing in the morning. Rushing off to work and school. But after school came soccer or video games, and after that came dinner at a fast food place, and then it was dark. No time to walk. No time to play. No time to learn tricks. No time for pets.
And then the families were scolding his puppies for doing what bored puppies do.
Santa has a big heart. A heart as big as love itself. When a heart as big as love breaks, it sends shock waves. Fires, floods, storms, droughts, tsunamis of sadness came upon the Earth as Santa cried over his puppies. Thrown away like a broken toy, or tied out back and treated like a burden, at best, and shamefully, at worst.
Santa couldn’t risk another natural disaster, so he implemented the No Pet Policy. But he needed to do more. Parents were cheating. They were buying puppies, putting them under the tree, and signing his good name to them! The very thought caused an earthquake, as Santa hiccuped in horror.
“A list! I’ll make a list,” thought Santa. He was good at lists. And he went right to work. · #1. No pets for Christmas, they are not toys!
Santa, the Champion of All Listmakers, could only come up with that one entry. He thought for a moment, scritching his beard. "Yes," he said. "That's the ticket!" He chuckled, and started a new sort of list, and went back to work ho, ho, ho-ing all the way.
Christmas Eve came, bright and crisp. Santa’s sleigh couldn’t hold another thing, and the reindeer snorted their eagerness to get going. Off they flew, dropping toys and goodies for all of the sleeping children.
And at the houses where the pets snuggled warm with their humans, he dropped gifts of love, comfort, and fulfillment.
At the houses with pets outside, shivering forgotten in the cold, he dropped gifts of responsibility, compassion, and appreciation.
And at Julie’s house, the little girl who had written to him, and all the others like her, he dropped gifts of intelligence, foresight, and education for the adults in the home. For Julie and the other children, left a special note:
Dear Julie, Santa wants you to have a dog, oh yes! After your parents open the special gifts I brought just for them, they will be ready to find you a puppy. They will take care of your puppy, since you are a child. You may help! From your parents’ care of the dog you will receive the gifts of responsibility, and compassion. You will learn to appreciate the gifts of love and comfort your dog will bless you with for its wonderful, long life. You will enjoy a gift of personal fulfillment like no other. Merry Christmas! Love, Santa Claus Years later, when Santa came to Julie’s house, his heart burst with joy! There was her dog, an Old One now, thumping his tail in welcome. And curled up with the Old One was a puppy, who looked at Santa with shining eyes. The Old One said, “The pup’s been here a month, St. Nick. My girl's parents used your gifts wisely, so I’ve been able to give dear Julie my heart and my love.” Santa dropped his trinkets under the tree, and gave the Old One a kiss on the nose. Knowing there was no greater gift than a dear pet’s pure love, he allowed himself a happy, all-is-well sigh, and then sailed on his way, shouting,
“Merry Christmas to all! And may love rule your life!”