Santa Paws

IMG_7418Our local mall allows people to bring their dogs on leashes to the mall for photos with Santa on a few Mondays leading up to Christmas.  Sayid has gone most years – I think this was his fourth year to go.  The first year he went, he met Santa and took the most adorable photo.  In fact, here it is.  He looks so small!


That was the only year he stopped to meet Santa.  See, Sayid tends to act a fool when he sees other dogs.  He is usually pretty friendly once he actually meets the other dogs, but he has no idea how to express himself properly, so he comes across as aggressive and scary.  Plus, they stopped allowing people to take their own photos and I’m not looking to spend $20 (or more?!) on a photo.  Luckily, I snapped this one when Sayid was a young puppy, and Santa looked right at me with a twinkle in his eye.  No need for Sayid to visit Santa anymore.  Now he just visits the mall.

This year, Mama and Daddy met Melissa, Sayid, & me.  It’s so fun for us to walk Sayid through the mall and see all the reactions.  More often than not, he gets a smile out of people.  (A big happy dog in a Santa suit will have that effect.)  Some people ask to pet him, and he’s happy to oblige.  Some people get wide eyed.  Some people spout profanities.  One older man was full of questions about Sayid and said he had never petted a dog before who looked scary, so we assured him Sayid was friendly and would only lick him.  He bravely reached down to pet him & smiled.  One little boy who looked to be about two walked up and Sayid gave him a big lick on the face. A girl working at a small booth of Christmas decorations took pictures of Sayid and showed us photos of her own puppy while a lady working at an adjacent booth quickly ran over to love on Sayid and then hurried back to her work station.  Then Sayid just wagged his tail, stared at her, danced in place, and whined.  I think he wanted a little more attention from his new friend and couldn’t understand that she was at work!

Adding to our fun night, we went to the food court and Daddy was insistent on treating all of us to Chick-fil-a.  Melissa stood off to the side with Sayid and Mama had already ordered, but I was with Daddy as he was getting ready to pay.  The employee visited with us while fixing our drinks and getting Sayid a little bowl of water, and then he said, “Your total will be zero point zero zero.”  Daddy and I laughed as Daddy tried to hand over his $20 bill.  The employee said, “Y’all have a nice night!”  Daddy and I were just looking at each other in confusion.  The guy was just not going to take any money.  So Daddy said, “Really?!  Are you sure?!”  The employee said, “Yep, I’m sure.  It’s free!”  Daddy said, “Why?!”  The employee said, “It’s just something we do; we randomly choose people during the day and give them their orders for free.  You were chosen.  So enjoy!”  Daddy and I were just shocked.  And grateful!  What a kindness.

Sometimes at the end of a work day, I just really don’t feel like doing anything but going home.  But sometimes you get to walk your dog through the mall in a Santa suit with your family and receive the gift of delicious free nuggets & waffle fries.  And that just makes for a great evening.


Fundraising has really taken a hit, y’all.

There’s a phenomenon that happens here in West Monroe.  I’m so curious as to whether or not it happens in other places.  If it only happens here, I may have to move away to escape it!

Often here in West Monroe you will find people – youth sports teams, charities, firemen, etc. – standing in busy intersections with buckets, begging for money.  Innocent, unsuspecting drivers get stranded at a light only to be encountered with these obnoxious, uncomfortable “fundraisers”.  I try to avoid eye contact, roll up my windows, and turn up my music.  It irritates the life out of me.  The firemen don’t seem to bother me as much, waving around their boots for money, for some reason.  I’m not sure what their cause is.  I guess I’m just partial to firefighters.  But completely healthy, athletic, able bodied teenagers who play sports competitively?  No ma’am.  Wash a car.  Mow a yard.  Babysit.  Don’t stand out on a street corner begging for money.

I know people always say “don’t ever say what you won’t do!”, but I can say with certainty that if I ever have children (probably not going to happen!) and my son or daughter is on a basketball team or in a youth group that plans to raise funds by standing in busy intersections begging for cash, I will be the difficult parent who says, “Nope.  Do some extra chores and you can earn some money for your cause.”  No indeed.  My kid will not be reporting for duty at the intersection of Well Rd. & Cypress Street.

Don’t get me wrong; I love giving.  I love giving cheerfully.  When someone shoves their bucket through my car window, I’d rather just spit my gum in it.  This would not be a cheerful giving situation for me.  Make yourself useful, folks!  Put some soap & water in that bucket & earn the funds you want.  There are lots of dirty cars out there –  mine included.  Hard work & effort is a lot more admirable than dodging cars at rush hour.  And it’s less life threatening.

Does this happen in other places?  Do you find it as annoying as I do?

Life is better with rain boots.

I’m short, but not short enough to shop in the petite section.  Given the choice between high waters or torn, worn bottoms of jeans from being stepped on by yours truly, I’ll take the slightly longer jeans any time.  Nobody wants to see my ankles.  All of this means that if it rains, my pants drag in the rain.  And if it pours, it’s gonna be a long, cold day until I can get home and change.  Typically, the wetness doesn’t just stay on the bottom inch or two of my jeans, but climbs halfway up my calf.  It’s such an unfortunate and uncomfortable situation.

I remember having this problem all the time in college.  Let’s don’t even waste much time over the fact that I didn’t ever even bother with umbrellas after a few turned inside out on me.  Rain is bad in Ruston.  Rain is different in Ruston.  Ruston – or maybe just Tech’s campus, perhaps – has horrible drainage.  I remember one summer I was taking a sociology course.  My friend, Micah, was in the class with me.  I was running a bit late and Dr. Martin didn’t take kindly to people showing up late.  We were having a test that day, so I wasn’t about to just not show up.  I was running to class as fast as I could in the middle of a downpour, and suddenly, when running through one of the lakes that had built up on account of the poor drainage, my flip flop slipped right off my foot and started quickly floating away from me.  I ran after it – jeans getting ever more soaked – and then chased it in circles as it literally circled one of the sporadic storm drains in a whirlpool.  It was quite the experience.  I remember feeling a little panicked!  Finally, I caught the wayward flipflop, got on semi-dry ground, and ran to class.  I remember walking in, leaving a wet trail with every step, looking like a drowned rat, and getting some strange looks from Micah and the other few classmates we socialized with who sat near us.  I told Micah what had happened and she couldn’t stop laughing and told me she would have paid money to see that happen.  She actually asked me to reenact the whole thing, if I’m remembering correctly.  (Thanks for the compassion, Micah Rae!)  Being soaking wet in a storm was not unusual back then, but that particular time was definitely the worst and the most memorable.

For me, in the first 32 years of my life, it seemed, my options for a rainy day were as follows:

a)  rolled up jeans until I made it indoors – that’s attractive!
b)  drenched jeans halfway up to my knees – that’s comfortable!

Then a couple of years ago I saw a really cute pair of rain boots at Steinmart.  Rain boots.  What a novel idea.  For our birthdays, my sister & I like to both take the day off work and have a day of fun together.  So for my 32nd birthday, we went to Shreveport.  We stopped by Steinmart over there and the boots I had been admiring were in stock.  Happy birthday to me.  My feet and jeans have been dry & happy ever since.

And adding to the joy of rain boots – sometimes when it’s not too cold out and we’ve gotten a lot of rain and I decide Sayid is due for a bath, I’ll put on my boots and take my sweet boy to the playground to splash in puddles.  Splashing in puddles is fun even when you’re not a kid or a dog.  Trust me; I speak the truth!  Go get yourself a pair.  When winter is over and the weather has warmed up, take your kids (or your dog) and go splash with them.  You can’t help but smile, and a happy pair of rain boots tends to make a rainy day a little less gloomy.  Rain boots.  They’re one of life’s simple pleasures.

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas traditions.  I love that every family or every person has different things they do consistently each year.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, just before my family opens presents on Christmas Eve (another tradition of ours), we read the passage in Luke about the birth of Jesus.  We’ll all sit in the living room and someone will read from Luke 2 every year before we pass out all the gifts.  It’s a small thing and doesn’t take long, but it reminds us of why we celebrate.

For the last six or eight years, I’d guess, those of us who are able will go to the Christmas Eve service at First United Methodist in Monroe.  My Memaw was the church secretary there for 31 years.  They have the most beautiful Christmas Eve service with a choir accompanied by a small orchestra, a message from the pastor, and then the night ends with everyone in the church singing Silent Night by candlelight.  At the end, you can look around, and the entire church is full of candles.  It’s beautiful.  My Memaw, who died almost four years ago, gave two angel figurines to the church in memory of my Papaw after he died in 1995, and they put them up in the sanctuary.  Instead of just bringing them out for Christmas, they are up year round, mounted in the pipe organs.  When I look at the angels, I think of my sweet grandparents who are a part of many of my happy childhood memories.

For the past few years, my sister and I have ordered Sayid a new collar for Christmas from a particular shop on Etsy.  Her collars are amazing and of excellent quality, so he doesn’t necessarily need a new collar, but they’re so fun to pick out.  And he’s like a happy little kid who is excited to open his package – with a little help from those of us with opposable thumbs – and see his new collar every Christmas.  Last year, he got a Little Red Riding Hood themed collar.  The year before that was a park scene with blue skies, lots of trees, and birds.  This year’s theme, in honor of his newly discovered love of going on bike rides with Melissa, is bicycles.  He’s gonna love it.  And my goodness, it’s gonna be cute on him!  I can’t wait for it to arrive in the mail.

My old supervisor, Mrs. Donna, had a delicious recipe for shrimp & grits, and she gave the recipe out to everyone.  My nephews are helpful in the kitchen and liked the idea of helping me cook breakfast a few years ago.  It was so tasty and we had such a good time that it stuck and we did it again a second year.  Thankfully, I got approval to be off work the day after Christmas this year, so I’ll head to a grocery store or two on Christmas Eve and pick up our ingredients.  Then I’ll wake up early(ish) on the 26th, load up all my ingredients, and head to Mama’s & Daddy’s house to cook with Caleb and Jacob for the third year in a row.

For years, I had the habit of watching my favorite movie – While You Were Sleeping – at some point on Christmas Eve.  There have been a handful of years lately that it hasn’t happened.  But maybe I can squeeze it in this year.  I’ll sure try!

What are your Christmas traditions with your family?