As a 16 year old for Christmas, all I wanted was a gift card to the mall to buy what I knew would surely make me relatively cool at school. Those sweatpants with PINK written down the leg and the matching jacket would make the girls who had enough money for such things notice me; I was positive.
Instead, I got a DVD and slippers. I knew that it was all my mother could afford, after buying Christmas for our extended family and making sure we had gas and food. I had thanked her with a hug and a kiss then proceeded up to my room with guilty disappointment. But before I even made it halfway up the steps there was a hesitant knock on the front door. I turned around to find my mother already answering it with the biggest smile I had seen on her face in quite some time.
There was a gruff looking man I had never seen before at our doorstep. “Santa!”, my mother exclaimed, even though he looked nothing like the jolly saint.
“Merry Christmas”, he grumbled and stretched out his arm to plop what he was holding into my hands. I looked down. Crap, I thought. It was a puppy. A freaking puppy.
Remembering my manners, I grumbled back, “Thank you”, as my mother shut the door. Great. How am I supposed to take care of a puppy when I can’t even take care of myself, I thought. I hardly ever made it out of bed in the morning, my motivation crushing depression made me lucky if I showered, and my anxiety made it so that the minuscule amount classroom time I did put in was a waste anyways.
“Well, what do you think!”, the non-thinker exclaimed out of joy.
“Um, I don’t know”, was all I could muster in return. An empty feeling began to creep into my chest. I don’t even like animals, I thought to myself. Every pet I had ever owned had either ran away or died. My mother was in no way an animal person herself. The only time I had experienced having a dog was with my father, on his weekend visitations. The poor pup was stolen right out of our yard and I never forgave the world for it.
I simply couldn’t wrap my mind around it. A dog? A living, breathing, being? A puppy at that! Who needed to be trained, walked, fed, and loved daily. Shucks, I don’t even love myself, I thought.
I looked down at the shivering ball of fur in my arms with contempt. Those bright eyes crying for her master. I softened a bit. I know, me too, I spoke to her with my eyes, I don’t want this either.
I sat on the couch, puppy still in my arms. My mother then proceeded to pull out a large gift bag that she had hid behind the couch filled with all pink doggy everything.
“I know you wanted that gift card,” she explained, “but I knew you needed this, and when I saw a picture of her, I knew she was the one. You can name her whatever you want, honey. And if you truly don’t want her, we can give her back. Merry Christmas.” My icy heart melted a bit at that, I knew she had saved up for an age and had really thought about me with my best intentions in mind.
“Let’s call her Lucey until I make my final decision, that is”, I told both of them, looking down on the still shaking creature with doubt. My mother tried to mask her smile with seriousness as she agreed.