Every year even before we were married Jeremy and I have taken one evening during the Christmas season to have dessert in front of the Christmas tree. It’s nothing big, not generally a very fancy dessert that takes much effort, but it’s a moment for just the two of us to reflect on the year, to count, once again the number of Christmas’ we have spent together and catch up with each other after a busy season of life. They are quiet moments shared with just each other and no one else.
I treasure those nights and look forward to them every year. They are, truly, one of my favorite things we do.
After kiddos came along we would send them to bed a little early, or have them watch a movie in the other room and have our Christmas Tree Dessert Date. They have always seemed to know what’s at stake and have respectively left us to our at-home date night.
It just hadn’t happened yet this year before Christmas, time got away from us. Instead we were finally able to make it happen on Monday night.
Jeremy had taken the girls out shopping for a couple of hours-they had Christmas money burning holes in their pockets. I stayed behind and made dinner and got a few chores done around the house.
I texted him while they were still out and asked him, if he had a chance to stop at a store and pick up dessert so we could have our Christmas Tree Date night before the tree comes down (after Epiphany, because…you know….it’s Epiphany.)
“Sure thing.” He texted back.
A little while later I received this text: “It’s gonna be good.”
I wasn’t allowed to see what amazing dessert we were having but he needed a half hour or so to prepare it.
The four of us enjoyed dinner together while finishing one of the Narnia movies we had begun earlier. Jeremy finished his first and headed toward the kitchen to prepare our dessert. After a bit he told me dessert was ready and presented me with platter of strawberries filled with cream cheese filling and covered in melted Cadbury Chocolate. They were, for lack of a better phrase, AMAZING. Oh. my. goodness.
We turned the lights down and found a spot on the floor right in front of the lighted tree. It really was stunning to look at the twinkling lights from a new angle, glimmering off each decoration. Reminders of our family and years that have passed found in each one of those ornaments. The air was peaceful and the only noise that of the muffled television in the basement. Another reminder of the children that made us a family.
We chose our spots on the floor, sitting as close as possible to each other for this, our one chance at Christmas Tree Date Night 2015. We began sharing this amazing platter of chocolate covered strawberries one by one-each one better than the last.
“These are amazing.” I told him.
“You came up with this on your own?” I asked.
“Yeah” he said.
“I think you’re finding your inner chef.” I told him and ate another and another and another.
“Maybe I am. You know the girls want to try those.” he suggested.
“Tell them they are gone. That they weren’t good. That you dropped the entire plate and there aren’t any more left.” I suggested back.
He just looked at me.
“Hey guys! How are ya? This looks fun! I love Christmas Tree Date Night! Just the three of us all together.” Daisy sighed as she was fully taking in the moment settling herself between us, eye level and looking back and forth between us.
“Hi Daisy.” We said.
“Hey, those strawberries look great! So we’re sharing right? Just the three of us?”
“Daisy those aren’t for you.”
“Oh, you don’t mean that. Can I have one?” She pleaded.
Daisy rarely accepts no without a fight and she suddenly remembered there was something on the tree she had to have at the moment. And the only way to get there was through us.
“I think I’m just gonna step across here….don’t mind me, really. I’ll just step over you guys and be juuuusssttt a minute.”
The only possible way to get from where she was to where she needed to be in order to retrieve the toy was to stretch herself out between us, straddle our legs and lean over the plate of chocolate covered cream cheese filled strawberries.
“Hm…boy I can’t seem to find….let me look. Ah, yes, there it is. That’s the toy I wanted. But, my goodness, I don’t want to touch anything else on the tree surrounding my toy so I will make sure to take as long as I can and gingerly, oh so carefully, pull my toy out of the branches. Don’t mind me, will you?”
This dog who once ran so fast directly at my child, running into her head on at a speed and force hard enough to flip her in the air and completely in a 360 degree angle, and then keep running, now needed to carefully take her time removing the toy from the tree. And the only, ONLY possible way to do this was to stand directly between Jeremy and I so we could see nothing but her back end.
“Ooh, ooh, there it is. I’ve got it now.” She told us as she managed somehow to turn herself around in between us and face Jeremy.
Looking him directly in the eye, and much too close for comfort, she asked, “Hey we can play now right? I got this toy and all and it’s really a nice one, and you’re just sitting on the floor doing nothing, so let’s play.”
“Daisy, we’re not playing right now.” He told her.
I’m not usually allowed in to conversations between Jeremy and Daisy. They are pretty exclusive. Daisy prefers to have his undivided attention.
This time was no different.
“Nope. I’d like to play right now.” She told him.
Daisy proceeded to jump on Jeremy, lick his face and insist he play with her NOW and her new found tree toy.
Clearly, I am not part of this moment.
The dog had taken over.
“Daisy go away.” He told her and threw her toy.
“Yes! This is the best moment EVER!” She hollered as she ran after her new found toy, clicking her heels in the air. “I think I’m gonna run back and try it all again.”
“Daisy, I don’t want to play.”
I’m still not a part of whatever is happening here.
“Daisy walk away.” I finally said. “Go.” I told with a bit of emphasis.
And in a moment where I’m pretty sure I crushed every ounce of spirit and joy my dog has ever had in her whole entire life, she dropped her head toward the floor and slowly, ever so slowly, walked away.
We watched her take this sad, sad journey all alone through our living room, assuming she would head downstairs with the girls.
We turned to face each other again and began where we left off. Eating chocolate covered cream cheese filled strawberries and enjoying each other’s company.
It was then that we realized Daisy hadn’t gone downstairs. She had sneaked around the coffee table, lying in the shadows and snug up against the couch. She, who is entirely covered with thick black fur and dark eyes, was slowly breathing, not making one single sound sound and was watching every move we made.
Well played, Daisy. Well played.