In the beginning, Doggie was soft and fluffy and cute. But over the years he's taken a bit of a beating. Here's a recent shot Firstborn took of him with my camera.
That's a computer cord he's wrapped up in. And notice he's had eye surgery. Doggie has definitely seen better days.
But, like a good friend or beloved family member, it doesn't matter what he looks like. Firstborn still loves him more than any of his other stuffed animals. He comes in the car with us. He sleeps on Firstborn's pillow. He can often be found sitting all floppy-eared on the dining table watching us eat. Doggie is no less a member of this family than the real dogs. He just sheds a lot less.
So when Doggie goes missing, it's quite a frantic affair. We're turning over couch cushions and reluctantly reaching under the furniture, wondering what on earth we're going to find in those dark recesses of our house (whatever we do find is usually covered completely with dog hair), and we rarely give up until Firstborn is reunited with his best pal. But this week I made an exception.
Doggie went missing on Sunday, and I did have a good search around the living room and over most of the main floor. When he didn't immediately appear, I made a mental note to have another look, but never got around to it, despite being reminded 86 times by my increasingly concerned 6 year-old. With Christmas coming, things have just been busy. I know you all know how it is.
Tonight, I was reaching up to a top shelf for something when my hand rested on a soft, familiar item. I grabbed Doggie and took 3 triumphant steps towards Firstborn's room, when something stopped me in my tracks. It occurred to me just at that moment that this was an opportunity to add a little magic back to my kid's Christmas. His dad's not going to be here to celebrate with him for the first time ever, and that's enough for a 6 year-old to deal with for one Christmas. The jerks at school have already been blabbing about there being no Santa, and I've successfully made it clear to him that that's the craziest thing I've ever heard, but I'm thinking a little extra proof can't hurt. So I stuffed Doggie into the bag of stocking stuffers I have hidden in my closet, and tomorrow night, I'm going to place Doggie under the tree with a note from Santa saying he'd found him in a secret hiding place.
Firstborn has actually made a "Lost Dog" sign to put up at the post office, so I'll have to find a creative way to forget that at home tomorrow. And the poor kid has already yelled from his room once tonight asking if I've found him yet. I admit, I do feel a little guilty secretly holding Doggie for more than another 24 hours when he misses him so much. But the end will justify the means, right? When Firstborn sees Doggie under the tree on Christmas morning and reads his note from Santa, that extra little bit of holiday magic will be worth the wait.
Now, I'm off to practice disguising my handwriting...