A Sock Full of Doggy Dreams

A Sock Full of Doggy Dreams

Manohar Maama snorted over his newspaper, "Christmas is not only about poor grown-ups rushing out to buy expensive gifts for their spoilt children…it also means a lot of prayer."

The kids hooted with laughter. Raghu said, "I've never seen the D'souzas pray this time of the year. Rehan and Mark are eating lots of good food, and having friends and cousins over all the time…it's great fun, Maama."

Grumpy Maama was not about to relent. "You don't see them because all the lazy kids in this house are fast asleep every Sunday morning when the D'souzas leave for church. And on Christmas Eve, they go for midnight mass."

This had the opposite effect. Instead of dampening the kids' enthusiasm, it charged them up. "Wow! I want to go for midnight mass!" chorused about four of five of the cousins - not one of whom was known to stay awake even past 10 at night during exams.

So the family arrived at a compromise. The older cousins would be in charge of organising the tree; all decorations had to be hand made; gifts exchanged between the children themselves had either to be 'hand-me-downs' or hand made too; and each child in the huge joint family would get one gift ONLY, from all the adults combined.

That last rule did dampen the enthusiasm of the Rajshekar family kids a bit. But they soon got into the spirit of the season. To save money, they arranged to transport the tree they chose in the market, by bullock cart. And on the way, when the bullock cart driver went off to have a cup of chai, the bullocks managed to eat some portions of the tree!

But the now lob-sided, bullock-eaten tree just added to the fun. Streamers were made out of red-painted paper. All the aunts' red sarees were borrowed and draped dramatically like gorgeous gold-encrusted streamers across doorways and around the tree. But none of the Rajshekar kids had the patience to 'make' gifts! Sudhir Anna had a brain wave.

It was called the 'Dream Sock'! Instead of the adults filling the kids' red stockings with gifts, Sudhir's idea had an Indian twist. The younger cousins could put a list of what they wanted into one of their own socks (a clean one, Sudhir insisted!) and hang it by the staircase. The older cousins would go through that list, and find things they themselves owned, to match the 'dreams' listed by the younger kids.

So when little Sunita's list said, 'comics' all the older kids were able to go through their collections and pick one out for her. Not to be given immediately, but to be wrapped and placed under the tree on Christmas day. Milind's list had 'Sudhir Anna's old dump truck' which was easy, because Sudhir was now 14, and wasn't into playing with dumb dump trucks any more. And so it went, a series of recycled gifts, passing down the family.
But the older cousins soon came face to face with a problem.

3 little cousins had written, 'A puppy dog' in their Dream Sock. The big Annas and Akkas tried persuading young Lakshmi, Kiran and Desh to change their minds, but they begged for a puppy. So Vinitha Akka decided that they could all share ONE pup. The cousins had noticed that the stray dog on 4th main had just had a litter.

The day before Christmas, Sudhir and Raghu went by, armed with some food, and a little cardboard box. They picked the little pup with the largest black eyes, the waggiest tail, the oddest, most lob-sided ears and the most ribs showing.

Keeping 'Waggy' hidden for a night was tough, but the older cousins managed. Taking turns going into the garage to feed him, cuddle him and generally see if he was okay.
At 5 o'clock on Christmas morning, Vinitha and Sudhir, sneaked the little fellow into the house, closed his box, punched a few big air holes into the top and tied a huge bow on the box, with the message 'To Kiran, Desh and Lakshmi, with love.'

The Annas and Akkas looked around the room, and then trooped back to bed, proud of how great the tree looked and how Christmasy the room had become.

When the family rushed into the room at 8 that morning they were in for a shock. The lower part of the tree (that the bullocks had not got to) was a mess.

The cotton pulled down and flakes of it all over the room…quite like a snow storm! The ribbons of a lot of the gifts were undone and trailed all over the carpet, over sofas and under tables, and the box with air holes was open and empty!

It was Manohar Maama who spotted a little tail wagging below one of the branches of the tree! So that was how Waggy came home…in style, on Christmas morning, with lots of fan fare, and straight into everybody's hearts!

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