Ooooh! This is an easy one. My favorite holiday memory happened 3 years ago this Christmas. My kids were still in elementary school and one of our old dogs had just passed away. Our other old dog was blind and pretty much deaf - the one who'd died had been his seeing eye dog. So, poor Bentley was left all alone. And the kids wanted a puppy.
I love puppies.
My husband says he does, but really, he doesn't.
So off we went to the pet store where the kids could play with the puppies. But we weren't getting one. (Don't get me started on the whole puppy mill thing.) But they had fun playing with chihuahuas, daschunds, cocker spaniesl, bichon frises, yorkies, etc. And they begged, "Please Mom, can we have a puppy? You won't have to buy us anything else. We won't even ask Santa for any gifts. Please can we have a puppy? We'll take care of it and feed it and let it out...you won't have to do a thing." (famous last words)
My response, "I am not buying you a puppy."
I bought two :)
One from a woman who owned the parents on a farm, and the other from her daughter who lived down the street and had one of the previous litter's pups.
Two beautiful cocker spaniel puppies, the kind my husband and I could agree on. Two different litters, six weeks apart.
Which meant only one could come home for Christmas.
So, on Christmas eve, I drove to the farm and picked up Vixen. I took her to my parents' house and left her there until the kids were in bed, then went back and picked her up. This little tiny bundle of red fluff with cute little ears and big paws. She and I spent the night in the basement and she never cried once.
Christmas morning, with the kids gathered in the living room, Santa's presents all around them, I walked in with a basket and set it on the floor. Vixen sat completely still. The kids thought she was a stuffed animal.
And then she moved.
"You got us a puppy!"
I will never forget the tears of joy, the hugs, the snub Santa's presents got ( :) ) and the sight of three kids playing with a puppy under the tree.
When all the hoopla died down, a box of puppy supplies was opened and Santa got his due, my middle child looks at me and says, "You lied."
"I did?" I replied.
"Yes. You said you wouldn't get us a puppy."
Here's where my husband chimed in. "Let's give Mom an early birthday present, shall we?" and he pulls out a box from under the tree.
The kids were looking at us funny. My birthday isn't until February. They know it's like a national holiday to me. Matter of fact it's bigger than Christmas to me. He wouldn't give me an early present - I like to be surprised.
So Mom takes the box and opens it veeeeeery sloooooowly.
The youngest grabs one of the flaps and pulls it open. Inside are some dog toys. A leash, like the one we already opened. Another bowl.
The oldest, sweet considerate child that he is, says apologetically, "Dad, we already have stuff for the puppy." Such a sweet moment, both the kid and the surprise I couldn't wait to spring on them.
"Really?" I asked, pulling out the purple dog collar (the other was pink). "Hmmm, what does this say?" I ask, holding up the name tag. (Of course, we've already determined that the other one said Vixen.)
My concerned, not-wanting-to-hurt-Dad's-feelings oldest child takes the collar and reads the name. "Raven..." He looks up with such confusion then wonder... "You bought us two dogs??!!"
The screams, the tears, the hugs, the joy in that room are a memory I will carry with me forever.
I know the SPCA says not to get your kids a puppy for Christmas. Not to buy into the sentimentality of the holidays and bring home a pet, because many of them end up in shelters or neglected. I get that.
But we were going to get another dog anyway. Bentley needed a friend, and, frankly, there was a hole in my heart where our other dog had been. I had to fill it. And Bentley would soon (8 months later, not that we would know that) leave another hole. We were getting these dogs anyway, so why not Christmas?
If a pet is in your future, I say that you should definitely give it to your kids for Christmas.