A season for Mercy
Polly, my stepmom, suggested the sweetest name: Mercy. We soon learned it was just what this new boxer pup would need.
My parents’ rambunctious dog would bolt out of bed and go-go-go all day long. So when they brought home a Christmas tree, they expected chaos. To their astonishment, Mercy didn’t seem to care. She paid zero attention to the tree suddenly growing in her living room. Nor did she react to the fancy presents under it, including a wrapped box of Milk-Bones.
Dad and Polly were wary; they’d never had a dog that didn’t force them to move everything to higher ground as if they were expecting a flood. But Mercy seemed oblivious.
A few days before Christmas, Polly awoke early, as usual. She passed the dimly lit living room and then stopped cold. Glancing back into the room, she saw that every last present was gone. Only the tree was still there. Had they been robbed? Why hadn’t Mercy barked? Where was she? Had the burglars taken her? Her thoughts frantic, Polly noticed a scrap of ribbon on the floor. Then a bit of torn wrapping paper a few feet away. Some glitter beyond that. The clues all made a trail leading toward the back door.
Polly flipped the switch, bathing the backyard in light. The perpetrator’s head lifted and froze. Alarm and guilt made her eyes wide. Oh, yes, it was Mercy. She lay under her favourite tree in a fluffy nest of shredded wrapping paper, chewed-up boxes, and curling bits of ribbon. Presents, pawed from their packages, were strewn among tattered bows. Beautifully wrapped boxes had gaping holes. Fragments of tissue paper mixed with the last remaining evidence of gifts. Clearly Mercy’s self-control had failed. She’d silently carried one package after another out the doggy door so she could pillage in private. Anything edible was gone, including cookies, chocolates, candy canes, and four pounds of Milk-Bones.
Nature took pity on Mercy, and she survived her midnight snack. My parents were so grateful, they laughed off the ruined presents. Only one problem remained. With all the gift tags destroyed, how could they send out thank-you cards? Mercy presented the problem, so Mercy provided the answer. A few days later, Polly returned to her easy chair to find Mercy guiltily licking a plate where a doughnut had just been. Polly snapped a picture of the shamefaced pooch and used it to make thank-you notes. The caption read, “Thank you for the ??” Inside, the whole story was explained. We all had to laugh. And everyone shared the sweet reminder that amid all the gift-giving, it’s really a season for Mercy.
Teresa Ambord Anderson, from Country Woman.