At least the tree turned out to be darn near perfect. And Gracie hasn’t pooped under it. Yet.
“Well,” I mused as we climbed from the car at the Christmas tree farm, “here we are, about to embark on a peaceful and idyllic holiday tradition.”
There were just the four of us - my husband, my full-grown fourth-born, Gracie and me. No teenage temper tantrums to soothe, no diapers to change, no hotly contested negotiations about which type of tree to buy. Surely, this trupnto the Christmas tree farm would be blissfully serene and darn near perfect.
As Gracie and I strolled along the widely mown paths, her tail happily wagging as she sniffed the air, I contemplated the photos I would take, posing my photogenic dog among the firs. Scouting the perfect tree, my husband and daughter soon gained a considerable lead on us and I smiled to see them eagerly exploring the far corners of the farm. I happily followed at a distance, knowing that once they agreed upon a tree and I had given my approval, I would then be free to wander about and fill my camera roll with adorable shots of our Christmas bliss.
At that exact moment, I glanced down at my dog who had suddenly stopped dead in her tracks in the middle of the busy walkway and was now - there is no delicate way to say this - taking a giant poop.
I froze in horror.
At the risk of sharing too much information, when wandering in the wilds with my dog, I’m a master at tucking unsightly piles into quickly dug holes or tossing the offending items into deep brush far off the beaten trail.
But this time, there was no way round it. I needed a doggie bag, and I needed it fast.
In the instant that it took these thoughts to flash through my mind, a family of five came walking along the path. I quickly stepped up to the offending heap, protecting the three small children from any mishaps. The youngest toddler was fascinated with Gracie and in normal circumstances, I would have invited him to pet her while I kept a sharp eye on my dog. But not this time. I couldn’t afford any distractions.
The toddler eventually wandered off. I watched my husband and daughter surveying trees far beyond earshot. I willed them to see me, to guess my plight, to run to the car and bring me one of the bags I keep in the car for occasions such as this. But they merrily plodded on, examining trees and moving farther and farther away from me.
In desperation, I pulled out my phone and called my husband.
He didn’t pick up.
Now it all came down to my daughter and praise the lord, she answered my call.
And so a plastic bag was finally delivered to me and my dog’s duty was removed from the path. It’s only fair to mention that the bag had a tiny hole in it so I was treated to the olfactory delights of her work for another fifteen minutes while we paid for the tree and strapped it to the top of the car.
There was no wastebasket at the tree farm so we had to drive off with the offending load inside the car. At the first gas station, my husband pulled over and disposed of it, once and for all.
I did not take a single photo at the Christmas tree farm this year.
Though I suspect I will remember this outing for a long time because i was reminded quite thoroughly of an important lesson
There is no such thing as a perfect holiday outing.
And the sooner I get over my disappointment about the inevitability those fantasy-busting imperfections, the more I can laugh at the endless absurdities of a real-life Christmas.