From Your Hometown Vet
A Lot Like Christmas
What Makes the Season Bright?
My family’s Christmas tree has never been very traditional. It’s not the kind of pretty, perfect Christmas tree you’ll see in a Hallmark movie. Ever since my brother and I were young, our parents would let us decorate the tree. We’ve always had colorful lights because we like those best, and, instead of orderly glass baubles, our tree is full of homemade ornaments or keychains from our various travels. It’s a hodgepodge mess, and I love it so much. Every ornament has a story, and our tree is very meaningful to our family. The wonderful thing about the holidays is that while so many people celebrate the same holidays, we can all have our unique traditions. I love hearing about the different ways families celebrate the season together. If you’re like my family and have a lot of homemade ornaments, be sure to hang them higher on the tree, away from where your pets can reach. Some homemade ornaments, especially those made of salt dough, can be toxic and even fatal to pets if ingested. An emergency visit to the veterinarian isn’t something anyone wants to do on Christmas Eve.
That rule holds to this day. However, my family did adopt the tradition of the Christmas pickle. It’s said this tradition came from Germany. Basically, you hide a pickle — or a pickle-shaped ornament — in the
Christmas tree, and the first person to find the pickle wins a prize. For our family, that meant getting to open one of your gifts on Christmas Eve.
These days, one of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching Terra open her gift. Of course my dog gets a Christmas present! She even has her own stocking. I put a little dog kibble in Terra’s gift before wrapping it. When she smells the food inside, she doesn’t hesitate to dig in. It’s so much fun to watch her tear apart the wrapping paper and get to the new toy or treat inside. That said, we have to be careful not to put her present under the tree until Christmas morning. If Terra smells the food, she’s not going to need the Christmas pickle to open her gift early. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate this time of year, it’s clear that December puts everyone in a happier mood. People are more friendly and forgiving. When you’re out and about, it feels like there’s more joy in the air. It’s great to stop for a breath and look around at everyone celebrating with you. I love spending the season with my family. It’s something I always look forward to.
I certainly wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Eve with Terra at the vet’s office for a number of reasons. To start, my birthday is on Christmas Eve! Many people with seasonal birthdays have to lump their special day in with Christmas. Fortunately, my parents made a point to make my birthday special and separate from Christmas. I felt pretty lucky because I got to celebrate my birthday and enjoy all our fun Christmas Eve traditions. In my family, we weren’t allowed to open any gifts until after breakfast on Christmas morning.
“The wonderful thing about the holidays is that while so many people celebrate the same holidays, we can all have our unique traditions.”
May you have many great traditions to look forward to this month. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
— Dr. Mikaela Stanislav
Your Hometown Vet
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