The holiday season is a time of friends, family, gift-giving, and festivities for most of us, but from a dog’s perspective, the holidays resemble a long confusing nightmare in which chaos reigns supreme.

It begins with a dead tree being dragged into the house with everyone oohing and aahing as the pine needles leave a path across the floor. If we even drag a branch from the back yard, we’re in trouble, but this thing is apparently special. Another interesting fact: normally a tree is fair game for marking, but not this one. Our humans are fiercely protective of this lopsided, leaning thing. They even string it with warning lights and hang all sorts of junky looking stuff on the sagging limbs, and continually warn us to not even think about touching that tree. The only explanation we have is that it is seasonal madness…it has something to do with the time of year, and we just have to survive for a few weeks, knowing that it will pass.

The tree is off limits, and sometimes the kitchen is a no-no too. There is a mad flurry of activity, cooking all sorts of things and then stuffing them into an already full freezer. It wouldn’t be so bad, but there is not even a hint of something for us. And the hoarding begins. We have seen squirrels hoard, but this is ridiculous. Big boxes and bags are crammed into the closets until the doors will hardly close. Even the squirrels know when enough is enough.

Other strange objects appear, and it seems like everything has a ribbon around its neck. The bags and boxes are hauled from the closets to the tables, and everything is covered with brightly colored paper, and of course, ribbon. What is this ribbon fetish? Then the boxes and bags are moved from the tables to the floor around the dead tree, and we are warned again to not even think about touching them. The only bright spot in this mess is that a couple of the boxes really do smell like those special dog treats mom makes once in a while. Maybe the two-legs were making dog cookies to put in the freezer!

Then there is that early morning madness when extra people show up, and everyone starts tearing open the bags and boxes that we had been forbidden to even touch. Hooch who has been around this craziness for many years offers some advice. “The human puppies are not all bad. This is a day when everyone eats several times, so sit by the kids. You can take food from them quite easily. A cookie, a cracker, some cheese, teething biscuits—it’s a doggie bonanza. All in all, it’s almost worth enduring their presence. “

Then the moment of ultimate humiliation. They put those gaudy, uncomfortable sweaters on us with little ribbons chafing our necks, but again Hooch, our wise senior four-legs, patiently explains, “Humans have strange sayings like, “that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and “this too shall pass,” which don’t make much sense, but I think they somehow relate to this whole sweater thing. I do know that eventually the nightmare will end. The human puppies will leave. The tree will still be leaning, there will be junk everywhere, but no one will notice. Your people will finally remember the boxes with the tantalizing smells and begin dividing up mom’s homemade biscuits …and some toys that still have squeakers that squeak, and stuffed animals that are really stuffed.

Hooch’s final words of wisdom are, “Our humans will be totally exhausted and maybe even cranky, but that will pass. It is important to appreciate the gifts…even the sweaters. The two-legs mean well. In their own strange ways, they demonstrate that Christmas is a special time of joy, a time to share, a time to put love and kindness and compassion on display. The unimportant stuff like the ribbons and tinsel (and the dead tree) will disappear, but hopefully the true meaning of Christmas—joy, love, kindness, and compassion—will remain.”

Faith, hope, and charity…may we always have these, not just at Christmas time, but the whole year through.